Coming from a 2017 full of successes, but still orphan of a breakthrough at a Grand Slam level, Elina Svitolina will find at the 2018 Australian Open a big chance to finally break her negative record at Majors.
Her current best result is a quarterfinal, reached two times in her career, at 2015 and 2017 French Open, but she has only once gone past the third round on hard courts, when she reached the fourth round last year at the US Open.
Considering her current form, it looks like the right time for her to take one more step forward.
The past season had surely been the best of Svitolina’s career. Not only she won five WTA titles - three of them at Premier 5 level - but she had also entered the top 10 for the first time, reaching a career-high ranking of number 3 in September, and qualifying for the WTA Finals for the first time in career.
After a not so brilliant start of the season, with a semifinal in Brisbane - where she defeated world number one Angelique Kerber - followed by an early loss at the Australian Open, she conquered the first title of the season in Taipei City, and then headed to Dubai. En route to her second title in a row, Svitolina defeated world number 2 Kerber in the semifinals, before getting rid of Caroline Wozniacki in the final, both times in straight sets. Svitolina's 15-matches winning streak ended with an early loss in Indian Wells.
On clay, she conquered a third title in Istanbul, and a bigger one at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, defeating the likes of Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep to claim the lead of the Race to Singapore. At the French Open, she reached the quarterfinals, but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Halep.
Prior to the Australian Open
Like last year, Svitolina started her season at Brisbane International, where she had been a two-time semifinalist.
After a very good start, that saw her scoring two comfortable wins against Carla Suárez Navarro and Ana Konjuh in the opening rounds, she found herself in trouble in meeting an equally in-form Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals. After losing the first set 1-6, Svitolina fought back to win the second at the tie-break, and then an unfortunate hip injury forced Konta to retire in the final set.
She met defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the semifinals, in a replay of 2017, but unlike that time - in which she lost to the Czech in straight sets - Svitolina recovered from a slow start to win in two tight sets and conquered both the final and the fourth seed place at the Australian Open.
With a one-sided match against a tired Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Svitolina eventually claimed the title and surely a big confidence boost for the upcoming Major.
Best Australian Open results
Svitolina had reached the third round in Melbourne for three times in a career, but had never been able to go any further. In 2017, she comfortably won her opening matches, but then lost in three sets to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
She had scored the same result in 2015, when she had lost to Serena Williams (winning only two games after taking the first set for 6-4) and in 2014, falling to Sloane Stephens.
In 2016, she lost in the second round to qualifier Naomi Osaka.
Svitolina will start her Australian Open campaign against qualifier Ivana Jorovic; she will compete in the bottom half of the draw, alongside second seed Caroline Wozniacki.