Date: 1 April 2021
Tournament: Miami Open 2021
Venue: Miami, Florida
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $3,260,190
Match timing: Not before 3 pm local time, 12.30 am IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Eurosport
Ashleigh Barty vs Elina Svitolina preview
The first women's semifinal of the 2021 Miami Open will see top seed Ashleigh Barty take on fifth seed Elina Svitolina on Thursday.
Barty overcame some stiff resistance from Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, winning 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3. Svitolina, meanwhile, doused the challenge of Anastasija Sevastova with a commanding 6-3, 6-2 win.
Barty produced arguably her finest performance of the year to oust a spirited Sabalenka. The World No. 1 didn't drop serve even once in the match, and saved all the seven break points that she faced.
Even though Barty isn’t the biggest of servers on the tour, she is peerless when it comes to accuracy and efficiency on that shot. With pinpoint first serves that often drew Sabalenka out of position, the 24-year-old set up several straightforward putaways.
That gave Barty a chance to dominate her service games, but perhaps even more importantly, heaped a lot of pressure on Sabalenka's return games. The 2019 Miami champion was also clinical with her groundstrokes, coughing up just 22 unforced errors over the course of three sets.
Barty is now just one win away from ensuring that she remains at the No. 1 spot for the time being, which has perhaps been an added source of motivation for her this week.
But in the semifinals, the Aussie will be up against a familiar foe who has had her number in the past - Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian played a largely spotless match against Sevastova, striking 19 winners and bagging an incredible 70% of her return points.
Interestingly, Barty and Svitolina were both close to suffering opening-round exits in Miami. Barty was match points down against Kristina Kucova in the second round; the Aussie rallied from 2-5 down in the decider to ultimately prevail 7-5.
Svitolina, meanwhile, trailed by a set against Shelby Rogers at a similar stage of the tournament. The 26-year-old also faced some physical issues during that match but she fought them off, and hasn't looked back since.
Ashleigh Barty vs Elina Svitolina head-to-head
Elina Svitolina leads Ashleigh Barty 5-1 in the head-to-head rivalry.
Svitolina beat the Australian five times in a row before Barty finally pulled one back at the 2019 WTA Finals. The two also faced each other in Miami three years ago, with Svitolina winning 7-5, 6-4.
Ashleigh Barty vs Elina Svitolina prediction
On current form, Ashleigh Barty should be the favorite to make it to the final of the Miami Open.
The former French Open champion has the better serve and also boasts of more variety on the return. Besides, Barty can generate power of her own and strike effortless winners from the baseline, which could come in handy against Svitolina's counterpunching style.
The Ukrainian has certainly proven to be a tough nut to crack in the past week, and she could ask a few questions of Barty on Thursday. But the World No. 1 has been in immaculate touch over the last couple of matches, and should be expected to emerge victorious against Svitolina.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to win in three sets.