Elina Svitolina's best-ever run at the Miami Open has earned her another shot at facing the World No.1.
The Ukrainian advanced to a semifinal showdown against top-ranked Ashleigh Barty by virtue of a 6-3, 6-2 win over unseeded Anastasija Sevastova on Tuesday night, rounding out the top half of the singles draw at the WTA 1000 event.
The No.5 seed was largely dominant against the unseeded former World No.11 in just 69 minutes, improving her head-to-head record against the Latvian to 3-1 in the process.
"I've always wanted to play well here in Miami. It's one of the biggest tournaments and playing here is always amazing, so I'm really pleased with the performance tonight," Svitolina said on-court after the match.
"I know that she's a big fighter and she will try to come back, it doesn't matter the score, so I was expecting a tough battle. In the end, I think I played really good throughout the match and I'm really happy with the way I finished it."
After the pair traded breaks twice across the first six games, Svitolina ran off a string of seven straight to her side of the scoreboard from 3-3, saving break points in two holds over that span.
The two had previously gone the distance in each of their last two meetings, but Svitolina had no such designs on a hat trick: though she lost one of two breaks from her 6-3, 4-0 cushion, she won seven of the last eight points to seal victory.
"I practiced with her many times. I played against her so many times. She always tries to build the point, tries to use her spinny forehand slice. She's a tricky player to play against," Svitolina added.
"So I had to really adjust my game to not rush so much, because if you rush against her you can make too many mistakes."
In all, Svitolina struck 19 winners and was a near perfect 6-of-7 on converting break points, winning nearly 70 percent of the points played on Sevastova's serve.
Svitolina's previous best effort in Miami was a quarterfinal showing in 2018, and standing between the Ukrainian and a place in her first hardcourt final in 12 months will be the top-seeded Aussie, against whom she owns a 5-1 head-to-head record.
"I know Ash for a long time and we've played many times before," Svitolina said. "She's No.1 and it's an amazing achievement for her. She's improved massively in the last three, four years and she's been at the top of the women's game. It's going to be a challenging match, but I'm ready for it."
The two last played in the last match of the 2019 season, where Barty was a 6-4, 6-3 winner to take home the title at the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen.
"I think we are both big fighters. I think when you're playing a really high-level player, you try to be extremely focused, more focused than anything else, because if you're playing a big match like that, you're not giving any free points and you are more on your toes," Svitolina added.
"You're trying to bring the best. So for sure, the match in Shenzhen was extremely tough for me after. I hate losing the [WTA] Finals, and especially Shenzhen, it's a huge event. I wanted to defend my title [from 2018], so it was extremely tough for me to lose that one, and hopefully, you know, I can play better and get the revenge."