June 20, 2018 / 4:59 PM / a month ago

Svitolina eases into Birmingham quarters

(Reuters) - World number five Elina Svitolina continued her good form on grass ahead of Wimbledon, easing her way into the quarter-finals of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham on Wednesday.

Tennis - WTA Premier - Nature Valley Classic - Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham, Britain - June 20, 2018 Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina reacts during her second round match against France’s Alize Cornet Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

The second seed Ukrainian found her rhythm early in the contest and powered past France’s Alize Cornet 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 22 minutes.

Tennis - WTA Premier - Nature Valley Classic - Edgbaston Priory Club, Birmingham, Britain - June 20, 2018 France’s Alize Cornet in action during her second round match against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina Action Images via Reuters/Ed Sykes

The 23-year-old, chasing her first grand slam title, will hope to improve on her last-16 appearance at last year’s Wimbledon, when she lost to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko.

“I was expecting a good match and she (Cornet) was producing some great rallies,” Svitolina said.

“She plays well against the top players, she beat a couple of them in the past, and she really steps up her game. I’m very happy with the performance today.”

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Japan’s Naomi Osaka was forced to retire due to an abdominal injury in her last-16 clash against Dalila Jakupovic, with the Slovenian qualifier leading 6-3.

“It’s never nice to win when somebody’s injured,” the 27-year-old Jakupovic said. “I was trying to focus on my play, and I didn’t really look on her side. I hope (Osaka’s) going to be better for the next tournaments.”

Jakupovic will next take on Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova, who mounted a comeback to win 3-6 6-2 6-1 against world number 56 Kristina Mladenovic.

Rybarikova, who reached the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, converted five break point opportunities and struck five aces in the encounter, which finished in just under two hours.

Reporting by Anirban Paul in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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