After a below-par start to the 2018 season, Jelena Ostapenko reached her first semifinal of the season on Wednesday, with the French Open champion fending off Elina Svitolina in incredibly windy conditions to reach the last four of the Miami Open.
Ostapenko, seeded sixth in Florida, had largely struggled heading into this tournament, picking up just four wins on the WTA Tour in 2018, though continued her impressive form in Miami to knock out Svitolina. Seeded fourth, Svitolina has been one of the in-form players so far this year, but fell just a little short where it mattered on this occasion, with the Latvian claiming a 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win in an hour and 48 minutes to reach just her second semifinal at a Premier Mandatory tournament.
Ostapenko fends better in tricky conditions to reach the last four
The conditions, just as they have been regularly throughout the last week or so, were far from ideal, with both Svitolina and Ostapenko struggling with the wind throughout some stages of the match, It was, however, the latter who dealt with the wind the best in the closing stages of both sets to take victory.
With Svitolina serving first, there were three straight service breaks to begin with, with Ostapenko securing the first hold of the match for a 3-1 lead. The sixth seed failed to hold the advantage for too long, with Svitolina breaking back for 3-3, though the Ukrainian once again struggled on serve and found herself 3-5 down as the Latvian took control. The fourth seed was once again able to get back on serve as Ostapenko made several poor errors when attempting to serve for the first set at 5-4 and she eventually forced a tiebreak, though Ostapenko took complete control, taking the final four points to seal the opening set.
Ostapenko often found herself down in the second set, though was able to progress as the fourth seed missed several opportunities to take it. Twice Svitolina, who had previously lost to the Latvian at Wimbledon last year, was a break up in the early stages of the second, though each time failed to capitalise as Ostapenko was able to even things up. The Ukrainian even had the chance to take the match to a deciding set late on, with Ostapenko sloppily handing a third break to her opponent at 5-5, though once again Svitolina was unable to make the most of her opportunity. Ostapenko took control of the tiebreak, and eventually converted a third match point to beat Svitolina for the second time
It was by no means a flawless performance from Ostapenko, who struggled at times, though the Latvian undoubtedly deserved the win, being the one who was able to take more of the large number of opportunities she received in the challenging weather. Following her strongest run of the season so far, the Latvian will be full of confidence for her semifinal clash against either eighth seed Venus Williams or qualifier Danielle Collins.