Nothing plane about it: Svitolina, Haas post wins inside Berlin hangar

Nothing plane about it: Svitolina, Haas post wins inside Berlin hangar

Svitolina was due to face Petra Kvitova on grass, but won Friday's first leg of the bett1 ACES when the two faced off at the event's second venue: a hard court at Hangar 6 of Tempelhof Airport.

Elina Svitolina won the first leg of the bett1 ACES women’s event in Berlin on Friday, beating Petra Kvitova,  3-6, 6-1 [10-5], in a hard-fought final between two of the biggest names on the WTA tour.

The showdown between Svitolina and Kvitova was originally supposed to be played two days earlier on the grass of Steffi Graf Stadium—that’s where the rest of the first leg of the exhibition event was played. But due to rain, the women’s final was postponed to Friday and moved to the venue for the second leg, a hard court with a very unique backdrop: Hangar 6 at Tempelhof Airport.

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After dropping serve in the opening game, the No. 12-ranked Kvitova reeled off six of the next eight games, closing out the first set with a big lefty serve out wide that drew a return error.

The No. 5-ranked Svitolina retaliated right away, though, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the second set and then closing the set out a few games later, ripping an inside out forehand winner on set point.

The match tie-break was close, but Svitolina was out in front from the start. From 7-5, she brought out some of her very best tennis, finishing it off with three straight winners: a down-the-line backhand passing shot to make it 8-5, a down-the-line forehand winner to set up multiple match points, and an ace for the win.

“I think it was a good match,” Svitolina said. “I was expecting a tough one. I know that Petra is striking the ball very big, so I had to adapt my game a little bit. I’m very happy with the match today.”

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The Ukrainian was asked about how she turned the match around after losing the first set.

“I was moving much better and anticipating a lot, and I think in general just everything came together,” she said. “And I was serving much better, which was one of the big things.”

While Friday’s match wasn't on the WTA tour, it may have been a meaningful victory for Svitolina regardless—Kvitova leads the pair’s tour-level head-to-head convincingly, 7-2.

Svitolina joined Dominic Thiem in the winner's circle. The Austrian beat Matteo Berrettini Wednesday on Steffi Graf Stadium, 6-7 (4), 6-4 [10-8], to claim the first portion of the men's event.

Meanwhile in Hangar 6 at Tempelhof Airport, the Svitolina-Kvitova battle wasn’t the only match on Friday's schedule. The second leg of the event officially kicked off with two men's meetings, followed by a pair of women's matchups.

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The men’s quarterfinals saw No. 73-ranked Italian teenager Jannik Sinner take out No. 15 Karen Khachanov, 6-3, 7-6 (3), and 42-year-old Tommy Haas—who retired from the ATP tour two years ago—edge out No. 34-ranked countryman Jan-Lennard Struff, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3).

In Saturday’s semifinals, Sinner will face Roberto Bautista Agut, while Haas will take on Thiem in a battle of one-handed backhands.

The women’s quarterfinals took place later, with former No. 9 Andrea Petkovic cruising past Alexandra Vecic, 6-2, 6-3, and Anastasija Sevastova upsetting current No. 7 Kiki Bertens, 6-1, 6-4.

Petkovic will play Kvitova and Sevastova will take on Svitolina for spots in the women's final Saturday.

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