Not many would have believed at the beginning of the year that by the time the French Open came around Elina Svitolina would be top of the Race To Singapore, yet that is the case following a stellar few months for the Ukrainian.
Having won four titles already this year, Svitolina is now at her career-high ranking of sixth and, as the fifth seed in Paris, she is undoubtedly in the mix to win what would be her first Grand Slam title.
Early 2017 performances
Svitolina started the season fairly strongly, reaching the semifinals at the Brisbane International before a third round loss at the Australian Open to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, though it was after that where things really got going for her.
She won her first title of 2017 at the Taiwan Open, beating Peng Shuai in the final, before winning both her Fed Cup singles ties against Australia. Following that, she won the biggest title of her career to date in Dubai, beating the likes of Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki, though she did go onto lose early in both Indian Wells and Miami.
Clay court results
Svitolina has had a very strong clay court build-up to the second Grand Slam tournament of the year.
She started her clay court season at the Istanbul Cup, where she was the top seed and the huge favourite for the title. Svitolina delivered what was expected of her, defeating Elise Mertens in the final for her third title of 2017.
There was a little dip in form at the Mutua Madrid Open, where she was upset in the opening round by Zheng Saisai, though she responded perfectly at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. Seeded eighth, Svitolina beat both Alize Cornet and Mona Barthel in her opening rounds, before beating Karolina Pliskova and Garbine Muguruza (albeit via retirement) to make the final where she saw off Simona Halep in three sets to take her second Premier title of 2017.
Svitolina has not only had the season of her career but also the clay court season of her career, and she will be incredibly tough to beat in Paris.
Best French Open result
The world number six’s best ever Grand Slam result came back at the French Open in 2015, where she reached her first, and currently only, Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Seeded 19th, Svitolina eased past Yanina Wickmayer in the opening round, before edging past Yulia Putintseva and Annika Beck in extremely tight matches to make the fourth round. There, she saw off 29th seed and home favourite Alize Cornet in straight sets to reach the last eight, before she fell to seventh seed Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.
She also had a solid tournament last year, beating Sorana Cirstea, Taylor Townsend, and Ivanovic to reach the fourth round, where she lost to eventual runner-up Serena Williams.
To date, the French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament where Svitolina has made it to the fourth round, suggesting that it is likely that her Grand Slam breakthrough, whether that is a first semifinal or even further, could come in Paris this year.