Elina Svitolina finds much needed form at Miami Open after difficult start to 2021 season

Elina Svitolina delighted

Very few WTA players have been quite as consistent as Elina Svitolina has in recent years.

Since starting 2017 ranked 14th in the world, the Ukrainian broke into the top 10 and has not left since, reaching a career high of the third in the world.

Svitolina has also been a consistent title winner. She has won 15 WTA trophies and lost just three of the finals she has played in, meaning she has more WTA titles than the likes of Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty and Angelique Kerber.

She won the WTA Finals in 2018 and is also a former Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist, as well as a quarter-finalist at both the Australian and French Opens.

There can be no doubt that the Ukrainian has put together an impressive career though some of her results have been criticised, particularly in recent years.

The current world No 5 has been accused by some of not making the most of opportunities presented to her to win big titles, particularly at Grand Slams, whilst she has also faced criticism for being too passive on court at times.

Some of these criticisms have been repeated regularly in 2021, with Svitolina playing fairly poorly up until the Miami Open.

Heading into the WTA1000 event in Florida, the 26-year-old held just a 9-5 record for the season, with a fourth-round loss at the Australian Open to the unheralded Jessica Pegula followed up by lackluster displays in Dubai and Doha.

However, she has seemingly recaptured some of her best form in Miami this week.

Perhaps key was her first match of the tournament against Shelby Rogers. The American has been in good form recently and was a set up, though Svitolina rallied to win in three sets.

Since then, she has picked up victories over Ekaterina Alexandrova, Petra Kvitova (also from a set down) and then a convincing straight-sets win over Anastasija Sevastova in the last eight to reach her first semi-final of the season.

She now faces a very tough semi-final against world No 1 and defending champion Ashleigh Barty – who herself has recaptured some form this week – but, win or lose that match, this has certainly been a hugely positive tournament for Svitolina.

Instead of relying solely on her defensive skills, which aren’t always enough to win her matches, she has been looking to be more aggressive and that is seemingly paying off for her.

What is perhaps most encouraging for Svitolina is that she will be able to use this as a platform for the clay-court season, which will start once Miami finishes.

Some of her best results have come on the red dirt, and though she has never reached the last four at French Open that is perhaps the major she is most likely to win.

If she can transfer the form she has displayed this week onto the clay-court season, it could be a very successful month or two for one of the top 10’s most consistent performers.

Follow Oli Jefford on Twitter @odicksonjefford.

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