March 28 (Reuters) - French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko overpowered Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina in two tiebreaks to win 7-6(3) 7-6(5) and advance to the semi-finals of the Miami Open for the first time on Wednesday.
The Latvian was not at her best, spraying the court with 44 unforced errors and having her serve broken six times on a windy day at Crandon Park.
Yet the 20-year-old’s aggressive approach, stepping into the court to take Svitolina’s second serves early and targeting the lines with her powerful backhand, paid off in the match’s biggest moments.
After Svitolina saved three consecutive match points in the second set tiebreak, Ostapenko hammered her 41st winner, a crosscourt backhand, on match point to end the nearly two hour contest.
Ostapenko said she followed coach David Taylor’s advice to stay on the attack against the defensive-minded Svitolina even when she was having trouble with her accuracy.
“When David came on the court he was telling me to keep playing aggressive, to go for the shots,” Ostapenko said during an on-court interview.
“Even if you are missing you have to play aggressive,” she said.
“I’m just trying to fight for every point and be more consistent and I think I’m getting there in my form.”
Ostapenko has now won both of her meetings against Svitolina, which included a victory over the 23-year-old at Wimbledon last year.
Ostapenko will next face either eighth-seeded Venus Williams or American qualifier Danielle Collins, who play their quarter-final match later on Wednesday. (Reporting by Rory Carroll Editing by Toby Davis)