Will this be the year Shelby Rogers finally defeats Elina Svitolina? After the Ukrainian's middling 9-6 start to the season, it may be her best chance to upset the world No. 5. Rogers has played brilliant tennis in 2021, already racking up nine wins and has only lost to the likes of Ashleigh Barty, Coco Gauff and Elise Mertens.
The American has lost three close meetings to Svitolina, whose counterpunching and movement proved too much each time. But this week in Miami, Rogers should have the edge.
According to players on the ground, the court is high-bouncing, on the slow side, and the lively balls fluff up with each passing point. So far, players who can manufacture their own pace and spin have been well-served.
Rogers can certainly create her own power. I have practiced with Rogers on a few occasions, and she hits an impressively heavy ball. If you don’t make a clean strike, Rogers’ pace and spin can quite literally take the racquet out of your hand.
It’s imperative that Rogers capitalizes on her chances against the ultra-quick Svitolina. Here, she doesn’t do quite enough with the volley and pays the price.
Rogers is a power player with surprising consistency. It’s in her best interest to try and overpower Svitolina with hard-hit returns like this.
The American owns decent touch, but engaging Svitolina in cat and mouse points is not the right play. The Ukrainian is a better mover, and will not be bothered by mediocre drop shots like this.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Rogers is listed as a slight underdog, which is a fantastic price against a struggling Svitolina. Look for Rogers to crush her way to the third round and earn her first win over the Ukrainian.
The Pick: Shelby Rogers