Halfway through her second-round match against Shelby Rogers at the Miami Open on Thursday, Elina Svitolina looked like she was ready to chuck the whole thing and catch the next taxi to the airport. She had lost the first set, 6-3. She had called out the trainer to look at her aching wrist. She had been broken early in the second set. And she had begun to put a worrying number of her shots—drops, half-volleys, easy forehands—half-heartedly into the net. Rogers, who made the fourth round at the Australian Open and has played some of the best tennis of her career recently, was out-hitting her at every turn.

But Svitolina didn’t chuck the whole thing, and she stopped hitting the ball half-heartedly into the net. She had won all three of her previous matches against Rogers, and she’s currently ranked 47 spots ahead of her. So when she saw the American start to tighten up a little with the lead, she must have known there was a chance. Svitolina continued to struggle to hold serve, but she continued to find ways to break back. She may never have felt comfortable in the South Florida heat today, but she did what she could to stay in touch on the scoreline, and eventually it paid off when she broke at 6-5 for the second set.

“She’s the striking the ball good,” Svitolina said of Rogers, “so I’m happy the way I bounced back.”


Svitolina's new attitude pays off in Miami comeback win over Rogers

Svitolina's new attitude pays off in Miami comeback win over Rogers

AP Photo

After leveling the score, Svitolina began to level the rallies against her more powerful opponent—she would finish with 35 winners to 34 for Rogers. Once she finally took the lead at 4-2 in the third, Svitolina grew steadier and more confident; just what you would expect from a Top 5 player who has learned a little bit about adversity over the past year.

“I had to adjust my game,” Svitolina said after her 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 win, “and just run for every ball.”

Svitolina has had her pandemic struggles, like everyone else. She said she felt like she was in excellent form at the Australian Open, before being outplayed and upset by Jessica Pegula in the fourth round. Since then, she has lost in the second round in Doha and the first in Dubai. So it’s easy to see how she could have let her frustration get the better of her when Rogers came out hitting bullets today. But Svitolina said she wanted to make the most of this rare chance to play in front of an audience, even if it was small and scattered.

“I try to enjoy every single match in front of people,” Svitolina said to cheers. “I don’t try to judge any performance.”

Sounds like good advice. Svitolina will put her on her next performance, and try to enjoy it for as long as she can, in the third round against Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Svitolina's new attitude pays off in Miami comeback win over Rogers

Svitolina's new attitude pays off in Miami comeback win over Rogers