Has Elina Svitolina slipped under the radar for the US Open?

Has Elina Svitolina slipped under the radar for the US Open?

The Ukrainian, fresh off a breakthrough at Wimbledon, will look for more in New York.

It was only a couple of months ago that Elina Svitolina, one of the most consistent performers on the WTA Tour the past few seasons, notched a personal-best showing at a Grand Slam with a semifinal finish at Wimbledon.

However, with the back-and-forth shuffle of the No. 1 ranking between Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty; young players like Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu making waves; and, of course, the presence of Serena Williams, Svitolina’s breakthrough has become a footnote in an action-packed summer.

Will the Ukrainian, playing in Cincinnati this week, be able to make another statement of her own this summer and establish herself as a contender for the last Grand Slam of the season or has she slipped under the radar?

So far during the hard-court stretch leading up to New York, she’s posted two quarterfinal finishes in San Jose, Calif., and Toronto. As the top seed in San Jose, Svitolina fell to Maria Sakkari as the young Greek rallied from the brink of defeat to record the upset. A week later in Toronto, Svitolina—the 2017 tournament champion—notched a couple of solid wins against Katerina Siniakova and Belinda Bencic before young American Kenin stopped her in straight sets.

Svitolina is still searching for her first title of the season. (Getty Images)

Those results come on the heels of her best Grand Slam performance to date at Wimbledon. Having reached the second week at the tournament only once before this year, Svitolina advanced to her first major semifinal, with wins against Sakkari and Petra Martic along the way, before eventual champion Simona Halep stopped her charge.

It was an encouraging sign for the current world No. 7, whose 2019 campaign hadn’t met the levels of consistency she had established for herself the prior two years. In 2017, three of her five titles on the year came at the Premier 5 level, with the first in Dubai enabling her to make her Top-10 debut. At the second, in Rome, she beat Top-five players Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep en route to the title; and in Canada that summer, she added more Top-10 wins to her resume, topping Venus Williams, Muguruza, Halep and Caroline Wozniacki.

In 2018, the Ukraine’s best-ever player at this point, won four titles, which included defenses in Dubai and Rome. The most important victory of her career came at the end of the season, though, when she triumphed at the WTA Finals. At the tournament featuring the eight best players in the world, Svitolina went undefeated in round-robin play, then toppled Kiki Bertens and Sloane Stephens in the semifinals and finals, respectively.

The Ukrainian will look for more in New . (Getty Images)

After that win, much was expected of Svitolina in 2019—especially at the Grand Slam level. Naomi Osaka, the reigning US Open champion, stopped her in the Australian Open quarterfinals at the start of the year, but she advanced to the semifinals in her next three events in Doha, Dubai and Indian Wells. A knee injury hampered her results for months—from Miami to the clay-court season to the start of the grass-court stretch—as she went 2-6 over three different surfaces. In fact, her Wimbledon semifinal was her first final-four showing since Indian Wells three months earlier.

Now, though, Svitolina appears to be healthy, and in her first match in Cincinnati, she defeated the always-dangerous Elise Mertens in straight sets to set up a rematch with Kenin, whom she lost to last week in Toronto.

Should she get past that, it would mark a third consecutive quarterfinal for the Ukrainian, who, surprisingly, is still searching for her first title of 2019. Since winning her first event back in July 2013, she’s never gone this long in a year without lifting the first-place prize at the end of the week.

Will the drought end in Cincinnati? If not, there’s a tournament right around the corner in New York where she’ll try to make her mark, as she flies under the radar in search of that elusive Grand Slam title.