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Svitolina into 4th round, ends 15-year-old Kostyuk’s run

Elina Svitolina
The Associated Press

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Elina Svitolina ended 15-year-old Marta Kostyuk’s strong run at the Australian Open, met her at the net for a warm embrace and offered some words of encouragement.

Fourth-seeded Svitolina reached the fourth round at the season-opening major for the first time with the 6-2, 6-2 win on Rod Laver Arena.

“It was sad playing another Ukrainian girl, same country is always tough,” Svitolina, one of five women in contention for the No. 1 ranking, said. “She’s a great fighter. She has a great future — we’re going to hear a lot more about her.”

Kostyuk entered the tournament ranked No. 521 — a number that will likely be halved — and had wins over 25th-seeded Peng Shuai and Olivia Rogowska to become the youngest player to win main-draw matches at the Australian Open since Martina Hingis in 1996.

The step up to facing a top 10 player was too much for Kostyuk on Friday, when temperatures reached 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) for a second straight day.

She had nine double faults, including on match point, and only got 37 percent of her first serves into play.

Svitolina, the only seeded player still in contention in her quarter, had five aces, only 11 unforced errors and didn’t serve a double fault in the 59-minute match

Kostyuk received entry into qualifying because of her junior girls’ victory last year at the Australian Open. She won all three qualifying matches, then her first two in the main draw.

Svitolina will next play Denisa Allertova, who beat Magda Linette 6-1, 6-4.

In the opening match on Rod Laver Arena, Petra Martic celebrated her 27th birthday with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 over Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum.

“It was very tough today,” she said. “Two days ago I was already struggling so I was mentally better prepared for these conditions. But today was really just try your best and survive until the end.”

The temperature was forecast to hit 42 C (108 F) but a weather change in the afternoon eased conditions slightly.

Kyle Edmund was the first man into the fourth round, overcoming Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 (0), 3-6, 4-6, 6-0, 7-5 in 3 ½ hours on open court in the peak of the heat.

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