Playing her first tournament since giving birth to daughter Skai, Elina Svitolina fought hard but eventually fell to Yulia Putintseva 6-7(3) 6-2 6-4 in the first round of the Credit One Charleston Open.
Even though it was her first match in 13 months, Svitolina successfully fought for over an hour in the first set alone. The world No.47 Putintseva twice promptly recovered from a break down and Svitolina even fought off a set point at 5-4 down before having the final say in a tiebreak.
Kazakhstan’s Putintseva opened the second set with a break at love and maintained the lead even though Svitolina had three opportunities to level to 2-2. Having missed those chances, Svitolina started finding herself in an increasingly disadvantageous situation — she saved two set points at 5-1 down, but the match inevitably progressed into the third set as Putintseva converted her fifth set point.
After dropping serve at the start of the third set, Svitolina stopped the negative trend by winning two straight games and the players were leveled at 2-2. Later on the Ukrainian once again recovered from a break down, but couldn’t go all the way as Putintseva won two games in a row from 4-4 in the decider.
This was the eighth career meeting between Svitolina and Putintseva. Svitolina had won their last six encounters, while now their head-to-head record stands at 6-2 for the Ukrainian.
In the second round, Putintseva will play seventh seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who has a first-round bye.