Svitolina sees off Coco challenge to reach third round

·2-min read

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina made good use of limited opportunities against American teenager Coco Gauff to reach the Australian Open third round with a 6-4 6-3 victory on Thursday.

The 16-year-old Gauff, the youngest player in the main draw at Melbourne Park, took the tournament by storm last year, taking down Venus Williams, Sorana Cirstea and Naomi Osaka en route to the fourth round.

Already touted as the successor to the Williams sisters, Gauff made a promising start to her bid for another upset victory in her fledging career when she set up a break point opportunity on Svitolina's first service game.

But the Ukrainian stayed firm to hold and denied Gauff on three more occasions during the 77-minute contest under the closed roof of the Rod Laver Arena.

The steely Svitolina converted two out of her three break point opportunities against the big-hitting world number 48 to seal the fate of the match in what was their first meeting.

Svitolina next meets Kazakh 26th seed Yulia Putintseva, who beat Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium 6-4 1-6 6-2, having won almost 80% of her first serve points against Gauff.

"I think I'm moving good," she told reporters. "I think the serve really helped me today a lot because Coco was serving great, as well. Serve is something that I've been working on, and now I'm finding better balance with that.

"Just in general I'm feeling good right now."

Gauff had more winners than her opponent but it ultimately came down to a few important points.

"I got unlucky on the break points," said Gauff. "I thought I played well. All the games were really close. Honestly, it was just the break points she stepped up and played well.

"She made me play, and I made some errors on the break points. She hit her forehand down the line really well and it was tough for me to defend that."

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Editing by Ken Ferris)