Elina Svitolina has already beaten four Top 20 players in 2014.
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By McCarton Ackerman, USOpen.org
Throughout the year, USOpen.org will feature a series of players who could make deep runs at the 2014 US Open. Here’s a look at 19-year-old Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.
The Baseline: Svitolina might be the best player you’ve never heard of on the women’s tour. The Ukrainian first gained attention in 2012 when she won the WTA $125K Series event in Pune, India. She then jumped nearly 100 spots in the rankings last year, winning her second WTA title in Baku, Azerbaijan, and qualifying for the season-ending Tournament of Champions in Sofia, Bulgaria.
She’s backed up those results so far in 2014, having already beaten four Top 20 players including Australian Open semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard, and she also toppled 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova. After reaching the fourth round last month at the Sony Open, Svitolina continued her strong form by upsetting world No. 18 Sloane Stephens on her way to the third round of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C. It should come as no surprise that she is now the highest-ranked teenager in the WTA at No. 36.
The Breakdown: An aggressive baseline player who attacks any short ball, Svitolina may have won the junior singles championship at Roland Garros in 2010, but her game is tailor-made for the US Open. Both of her WTA titles have come on outdoor hard courts.
Even at this early stage of her career, the US Open holds a special place for Svitolina. She qualified for her first Grand Slam main draw during the 2012 tournament and knocked off reigning Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova in the opening round of last year’s event. Svitolina even regards the US Open as the Grand Slam she’d most like to win.
Her experience in the Emirates Airline US Open Series is limited to just one tournament, a first-round loss last year in New Haven. But with the strong results she’s already displayed on hard courts and a ranking high enough to earn direct entry into any Emirates Airline US Open Series event she wants this summer, Svitolina is poised to make a big splash this summer.