Elina Svitolina Needs a Deep US Open Run

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Elina Svitolina

The WTA Tour is not often associated with stability. Usually dominated by Serena Williams and with others picking at the scraps, this year has been different. In a Serena-less 2017 a handful of players have created a stable group at the top of the rankings, consistently making deep runs in tournaments. Of this bunch, Elina Svitolina is the standout star.

While only five other WTA players have won more than one trophy this year, Svitolina has won five. Her near-flawless record in Premier 5 tournaments has been the driving force behind the collection. The Ukranian has won the Dubai Open, Italian Open and Canadian Open in 2017.

Further titles in Taiwan and Turkey have bolstered her collection and leaves the rest of the field trailing in her wake. Currently World No.1 Karolina Pliskova is the next highest on this list with three titles. Kiki Bertens, Johanna Konta, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Katerina Siniakova each have two.
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Compare her flawless 5-0 record in 2017 finals with Caroline Wozniacki’s 0-6 and there is little doubt who is having the better year. Yet, despite this array of titles, Elina Svitolina only holds a slender lead 40 point lead over Simona Halep in the Race to Singapore. Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Wozniacki are also all within 500 points of the Ukrainian. Why is the gap not larger?

The answer is very simple. She has not translated her form to the Grand Slams.

Elina Svitolina’s Grand Slam woes

Elina Svitolina’s Grand Slam record is a blotch on her otherwise perfect 2017 scorecard. Halep, Muguruza and Pliskova have all reached at least two quarter-finals, with Halep making the French Open final and Muguruza winning Wimbledon. Svitolina? Well she scraped into the French Open quarter-final and made earlier exits in the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

At Wimbledon she succumbed to Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets while Simona Halep was her Parisian conqueror. More disappointing was a three-set defeat to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Australian Open.
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With ten wins over top ten players in 2017, Svitolina clearly has a knack for beating quality opposition. Yet in the three Grand Slam’s in 2017 she has failed to beat a seeded player. In fact, she has not beaten a seed since defeating Ana Ivanovic in the 2016 French Open. On top of this, the only top 50 player she has beaten in a Slam is Yaroslava Shvedova this year. This is a concerning statistic.

Why is Elina Svitolina’s strong mental game not translating to the Grand Slams?

It seems peculiar that a player with the mental fortitude to hold a 5-0 winning record in 2017 finals has such an inability to defeat seeded players at Grand Slams. If she is to be considered a regular Grand Slam contender, Svitolina has to have an impressive US Open. And she has no excuses.

In her run to the Rogers Cup title Elina Svitolina pulled off a sensational string of victories. Daria Kasatkina, Venus Williams, Muguruza, Halep and Wozniacki were all brushed aside. Four of those players are ranked inside the top ten. At any tournament this is a remarkable, unprecedented run of results.
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The 22-year-old has never progressed past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam before. If Elina Svitolina is to become the recognisable global star she deserves to be then this has to change. For all Svitolina’s titles this year, Jelena Ostapenko is more widely known to casual tennis fans because she has a Grand Slam title in her locker.

For all her success, Caroline Wozniacki is still the former #1 who never won a Grand Slam. Obviously it is early in her career, but Elina Svitolina needs Grand Slam success to ensure she does not follow the same path. What better time to do it than at the 2017 US Open.

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