Elina Svitolina battled back from a set and a break down to beat Storm Hunter and reach the third round at the French Open on Wednesday, just 12 hours after her husband Gael Monfils’ late-night escape act.
Ukrainian Svitolina, playing at a Grand Slam event for the first time since the 2022 Australian Open, downed qualifier Hunter 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 on Court Simonne Mathieu.
Home favourite Monfils claimed his first win in nine months in a five-set first-round thriller against Sebastian Baez which finished after midnight in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“Yes, I watched him, but not live. I was screaming in my room so if someone heard me, it was me cheering for Gael,” said Svitolina, who was being supported on Court Simonne Mathieu by Monfils.
“It was an unbelievable match and I don’t know what he’s doing here now.
“He should be resting. But I’m very thankful that he came to support me, especially in this tough match.”
The 28-year-old only recently returned to the WTA Tour from maternity leave, having also previously taken a break citing health problems and mental exhaustion following Russia’s invasion of her home country.
The former World No.3 dropped the opening set and was then broken in the third game of the second.
But Svitolina found her form, breaking 204th-ranked Hunter six times in the rest of the match to power to victory.
The three-time French Open quarterfinalist will next face either fifth seed Caroline Garcia or Russian Anna Blinkova, in what would be a repeat of last week’s Strasbourg final won by Svitolina.
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