Fourth seed Elina Svitolina suffered a surprise 6-3 7-5 loss to seed No.31 Mihaela Buzarnescu in the third round of the French Open, becoming the biggest favorite to lose so far at the tournament, as her recent title defense in Rome qualified her as one of top contestants for the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.
Playing the world No.33 Buzarnescu, Svitolina quickly faced a 1-3 deficit, as her Romanian opponent consolidated the break she earned by sealing her following love hold with an ace. Svitolina did have several chances to recover, but used none and the underdog won the first set. Svitolina served for the second set at 5-4, but then lost three games in a row, handing Buzarnescu, who acquired a PhD in sports science during an injury hiatus in 2013 and 2014, her third main-draw win at a major (obviously, all three wins happened this week).
Buzarnescu’s highest ranking in 2016 was No.203, in 2017 she improved it to No.55, and in 2018 to No.32. Late blooming is a common trend in the WTA world nowadays — the 30-year-old Buzarnescu made her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam last year at the US Open, then she recorded her first runner-up finishes at WTA tournaments, in Hobart and Prague this year. Moreover, the Romanian won one doubles title, you guessed it, in 2018, partnered with Raluca Olaru in Strasbourg.
Buzarnescu’s opponent in the fourth round of Roland Garros will be 13th seed Madison Keys, who got past Naomi Osaka 6-1 7-6(7) today on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
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