PARIS (Reuters) - A charged-up Elina Svitolina powered into the French Open quarter-finals for the fourth time with a 6-4 7-6(5) victory over Russian ninth seed Daria Kasatkina on Sunday as she kept alive hopes of winning a maiden Grand Slam title.
The Ukrainian is brimming with confidence after winning the Strasbourg title last month following her maternity break and is quickly rediscovering the form that took her to the last eight in Paris in 2015, 2017 and 2020.
"I definitely wouldn't have dreamt of this when I was giving birth," said Svitolina, whose daughter Skai was born in October. "It's unbelievable to be able to compete.
"And going all the way to the quarter-finals is a special feeling. I hope I can push even further, I'm really motivated for the next few matches."
In the quarter-finals, Svitolina will take on world number two Aryna Sabalenka or 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens who meet in the night session later.
She began brightly on a shadowy Court Suzanne Lenglen to bag two early breaks before handing one straight back to Kasatkina, but the 28-year-old ensured that was the only blip in the 45 minutes she took to wrap up the first set.
Svitolina, who is married to French player Gael Monfils and enjoys huge support among local fans, roared back from 2-0 down in the second set with both players struggling to hold serve and got her nose in front with some heavy hitting late on.
"It was a wonderful atmosphere and I'm really thankful for your support," Svitolina added. "I can see what Gael has been experiencing all these years and I'm thankful to the French people for their support."
With popular Russian singer Zemfira - an opponent of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine - watching from Kasatkina's box, Svitolina squandered a match point and got pulled into a tiebreak where the pressure mounted.
But Svitolina settled her nerves to wrap up the contest and, while there was no customary handshake at the net, Kasatkina gave her opponent a thumbs-up before walking away.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Paris; Editing by Ken Ferris)