CHARLESTON, SC, USA - She's been one of the world's best teenagers for a while now, but now she's THE best - after an inspired run to the fourth round of the Sony Open Tennis, Elina Svitolina will strut onto the clay courts of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston as the world's No.1 teenager.
Svitolina was an iron woman in Miami, grinding through three three-setters in a row to reach the fourth round. Her third round win over Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was the win that clinched her rise to No.1 teenager - and she very nearly lost that match, rallying from 64 41 down to prevail, 46 64 61.
She rises from No.42 to No.35 now, leapfrogging World No.36 and former No.1 teen Madison Keys.
"Actually I didn't know I would become the No.1 teenager if I won that match - I was just trying to play the tournament and do my best, but I'm really happy about this," Svitolina said. "My goal is just to improve my game, play matches and get more experience and confidence, and keep getting better."
Svitolina's run at Miami would end in the fourth round at the hands of Agnieszka Radwanska, and in another three set marathon - a 76(5) 57 62 decision that lasted all of two hours and 33 minutes.
Radwanska, the World No.3, was very complimentary of the 19-year-old Ukrainian after the match.
"It was really tricky because I didn't know her and she played really solid tennis in all three sets," Radwanska said. "She's a great player and had a really good run here - a couple of very good wins.
"I think she's really playing some very good tennis these days."
After breaking through with her first WTA title last summer in Baku - the only teenager in the last two years to win a WTA title - Svitolina has gone from strength to strength this year, reaching the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in Australia, her first Premier-level quarterfinal in Paris and just now her first deep run at a Premier Mandatory event. And now that new career-high of No.35.
And the experience from those first few Top 20 wins might become critical given her next goal.
"My goal is to make the Top 20 this year," she said. "Baku last year gave me a lot of confidence, and I knew I could do better and better, and I've been working hard and getting more and more confident.
"I think it's possible for me."