Wildcard Elina Svitolina and No.1 seed Sloane Stephens will meet in the semi-finals of the l’Open 35 de Saint-Malo, a WTA 125 tournament. Svitolina, ranked 1088th, beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-3, 6-1 while Stephens, at a career high of No.124, overcame Jessika Ponchet 6-2, 2-6, 6-1. The last time the pair played each other was in the final of the 2018 WTA Finals Singapore, which Svitolina won 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Svitolina also won their only previous clay-court encounter, 6-4, 6-4 in the second round of Charleston 2014.
The tournament marks the first time since her maternity leave that Svitolina has won consecutive matches. In the second semi-final, Greet Minnen, who ended No.8 seed Emma Navarro’s 12-match winning streak 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, will face Katie Volynets, who took out No.7 seed Magdalena Frech 6-3, 6-3. Both will be bidding to reach their first WTA 125 final.
Svitolina fired five aces en route to victory over Jeanjean while Stephens had dropped just four games to reach the quarter-finals, where she was forced to a deciding third set by Ponchet. Both players had taken wild cards into the tournament after early exits at the Madrid Open. Minnen and Volynets will be hoping to reach their first ever WTA 125 final.
In 2018, Svitolina and Stephens played each other in the final of the WTA Finals Singapore, with Svitolina coming out on top. Her overall head-to-head with Stephens is level at two wins each. Svitolina, who returned from maternity leave last month, notched the first Top 100 win of her comeback over No.4 seed Ysaline Bonaventure, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5) in the second round of the tournament. It was the first time since her comeback that Svitolina has won consecutive matches.