By Daniel Perissé
Ashleigh Barty has one last challenge before reaching her second straight final at the Miami Open presented by Itaú: Elina Svitolina. The World No. 1 plays against the Ukrainian tomorrow, April 1st, in one of the Women’s Singles semifinals.
This will be their seventh meeting, and Svitolina has a 5-1 advantage in the head-to-head series – however, Barty won the last encounter, a 6-4, 6-3 triumph in the 2019 WTA Finals.
“We have had some exceptional battles in big tournaments. I think that test will be no different, another big match. She’s figured her way out through this draw very well. I have to bring my very best to beat her,” said the Australian, who will leave Miami as World No. 1 even in case of a loss due to Naomi Osaka’s defeat in the quarterfinals.
This is Svitolina’s first semifinal in her seventh appearance at the Miami Open. Although she knows that Barty has improved over the years, she is focused in playing her first final in 2021.
“Well, for sure it’s a good tournament for me, but I try to take every tournament as a challenge, and this one for sure I was working really hard physically, mentally as well, to play at this level. I have beaten very good players. I’m playing good tennis, so I try to build on that.”
Barty and Svitolina play the second match on Grandstand, not before 3 p.m.
The schedule begins at 1 p.m. with the clash between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz, who will fight for a place in the Men’s Singles Semifinal. The Greek has a 6-1 head-to-head advantage against the Polish player, who won the Delray Beach Open this season.
Hurkacz is 7-0 playing this year in the state of Florida, where he lived and practiced during a great part of 2020.
“Last year I spent like over five months here. So, I got used to the weather and the conditions here, so I think that’s kind of an advantage for me,” he explained.
Later on Grandstand, at 7 p.m., Bradenton’s Sebastian Korda continues his dream run challenging Russian Andrey Rublev for a semifinal spot. The 20-year-old obtained the most important ATP-level win of his career after defeating World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman in the quarterfinals.
“It’s been a long journey, and I have worked extremely hard both physically, mentally, and on my tennis. So, all the hard work is paying off,” said the son of former World No.2 Petr Korda, who was a finalist at the 2021 Delray Beach Open.
Not before 8:30 p.m., Maria Sakkari plays Canada’s Bianca Andreescu in the second Women’s Singles semifinal.
The No. 23 seed, Sakkari comes from a stunning 6-0 6-4 victory against Naomi Osaka that ended the World No. 2’s 23-win streak.
“Yeah, I would say that it’s for sure one of the biggest ones. I think also beating Serena was equally big, but, you know, beating her after 23 matches in a row without losing, it was a big thing, of course. Yeah, for sure it’s one of the biggest wins of my career.”
Andreescu prevailed over Spaniard Sarah Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 35 minutes. The Canadian had 42 winners during the match.