A fantastic run for Nicole Gibbs in the Bank of the West Classic came to an end on Wednesday night, as world-ranked No. 20 Elina Svitolina defeated her in straight sets to advance to the quarterfinals.
On a night where three seeded players in the tournament had already been upset, Gibbs hoped that she could make Svitolina, the eighth seed in the tournament, the fourth to go down. However, Svitolina won the match 6-3, 7-6 (5).
The match looked very even at first. Both players had trouble holding serve, with the first set opening 1-1 after each player broke the other. From there, however, Svitolina took control of the set, firing off three straight games. The 4-1 lead was ultimately too much for Gibbs to overcome, and Svitolina took the first set 6-3.
The second set went back and forth multiple times, with the Taube Family Tennis Stadium crowd displaying a clear allegiance to Gibbs. The most telling moment of the match came towards the end, when Svitolina took a 5-4 lead in the set after breaking Gibbs’ serve and looked to take the match. As the players switched sides to begin the 10th game, the crowd erupted in a cheer for Gibbs, giving her plenty of encouragement and adoration.
From there, Gibbs used the home court advantage to take four straight points and bring the set to a deadlocked 5-5 tie. She had regained control and the stadium reached its loudest peak.
Ultimately, it wasn’t enough to get the job done. The set later moved to tiebreaks, where a series of unforced errors from Gibbs gave Svitolina the second set. The conclusion of the final point brought the crowd to its feet, as they sent Gibbs off with a resounding standing ovation.
It would have been the fourth win in five days for Nicole Gibbs, who had developed more than a fan favorite title on the court, where she had compiled a 56-5 collegiate career record. Svitolina deserves much credit, as she made full use of the court and capitalized on Gibbs’ aggressive play in order to effectively take the crowd of the match.
Gibbs’ loss signifies the elimination of all Stanford affiliates from the tournament. On the same day that Gibbs defeated Caroline Garcia to advance to the second round, junior Carol Zhao lost 6-3, 6-0 to Mona Barthel. The other two Stanford players, juniors Taylor Davidson and Caroline Doyle, were defeated over the weekend in the tournament’s qualifying matches.
Contact Sandip Srinivas at sandips ‘at’ stanford.edu.