NEW YORK, NY, USA - No.5 seed Elina Svitolina maintained her dominance of No.16 seed Johanna Konta at the US Open, sealing her second Grand Slam semifinal spot in a row 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 39 minutes.

Three months ago, the Ukrainian had a 0-4 record in major quarterfinals - but having snapped that streak at Wimbledon, has now won two in a row, ironically at the two Grand Slams where she had never previously made the last eight. Svitolina, who is yet to drop a set this fortnight, struck four aces and 16 winners to only 13 unforced errors to post her fifth win in as many meetings against Konta - and to become the first ever Ukrainian semifinalist at Flushing Meadows.

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"All my career I have been going step by step," explained Svitolina regarding the time it has taken her to break through to this stage of a major. "I was going very slowly... I was quite consistent, I would say, but I had some tough matches [in the] round of 16, quarterfinals before I started to win them.

"It's been tough and painful losses sometimes, but I think they gave me this push, this confidence and maybe helped me in some matches... There are some players [who] raced and then jumped because of injury or something else. Me, I was more consistent with my game maybe and not winning so many matches on the Grand Slam before. Probably this was a little bit of an issue - but not any more."

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Ironically, Svitolina's finest Grand Slam season to date has been accompanied by her worst trophy haul since she first emerged on Tour. A Tour-leading five titles in 2017 were followed by four in 2018, but in each of those years Svitolina would only reach one major quarterfinal. This year, the Odessa native has an Australian Open quarterfinal, Wimbledon semifinal and at least a US Open semifinal under her belt - but no titles so far.

"I think I'm generally stronger," explained Svitolina. "Mentally I'm handling the pressure points better. For sure, sometimes it's possible that you're not there on that day, not playing your best. But you try to find your own path, your own way how to handle those kind of moments. And I think since Singapore I handled the pressure very good. When I'm fit and when I'm ready to play, I can play very solid and have very good baseline game. [Singapore] gave me the belief I can play very consistent against the top players."

With both players serving solidly from the outset, the key passage of play in the first set was a run of four games midway through that all featured at least one break point. Svitolina struck first, taking advantage of a series of backhand mistakes from Konta by stepping in to hammer an off forehand return to move up 3-2 - but a brace of scorching down-the-line winners paved  the way for the Briton to hit back immediately.

Unfazed, the WTA Finals champion came up with a couple of magnificently angled backhand passes to take the lead again - and this time fended off the break-back point with an ace to consolidate it.

Tactically, it was evident that Konta was attempting to bring more of her repertoire to the court in her bid for a first victory over Svitolina; to that end, the 28-year-old deployed dropshots, slices and net forays to a greater extent than usual to accompany her signature power. At times, this would pay off - Konta would win 11 of 16 points at net - but by the end of the set, Svitolina was beginning to anticipate more of the changes of pace, and it was with an awkwardly chopped slice sent beyond the baseline that Konta would lose set point - her 15th unforced error of the set.

As in the opener, the crucial section of the second set would be its middle. The fifth game found Konta, frustrated after again being unable to make headway into a Svitolina service game, collapsing on her backhand side to fall behind a break - only to turn around and doggedly fight back with her forehand, taking break point with a chopped reflex dropshot that took Svitolina - as well as most spectators - by surprise.

The Wimbledon semifinalist has spent this fortnight weathering her opponents' fightbacks, from teenager Whitney Osuigwe raising her game in the first round to Venus Williams hitting prime form for spells of their second-round clash. Each time, Svitolina has been able to play the scoreboard despite being temporarily outhit, and the 24-year-old did that again today.
Battening down the hatches, superlative defence garnered her a break to love to halt Konta's comeback momentum in its tracks.

Coming into today's quarterfinal, an underrated aspect of Svitolina's game in New York has been her efficiency on serve, having won 76% of her first serve points through her first four rounds - the ninth best percentage of any player in the draw, even outranking Konta's renowned serve. Though Svitolina would not match her average today, winning only 61%, her delivery was reliably clutch.

Coming up with some of her best serves to stave off potential turning points, the 13-time WTA titlist only faced break points in two games - and, once she had moved up 4-3 in the second set, this solidity saw her over the line. By contrast, Konta was now struggling to maintain control of her groundstrokes as she racked up 35 unforced errors to 24 winners.

Though Konta battled valiantly to save two match points with unreturnable serves and came out with full power on her groundstrokes as Svitolina served for the win, more magnificent defensive work from the higher-ranked player - including a running backhand pass that inspired her to exhort the crowd into an ovation - sealed the match on her third opportunity.

Next up will be either No.8 seed Serena Williams or No.18 seed Wang Qiang with a maiden Grand Slam final at stake for Svitolina. Meeting the latter would be a reprise of their third-round clash in New York last year; the former would be their first meeting since Svitolina triumphed in the third round of the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Not that Svitolina will be anything other than prepared for a battle. "Doesn't really matter who I'm going to play in semifinal - it's a challenge," she said. "Person who reach the semifinal is playing well - you have to bring your best game to beat them."