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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday March 29, 2023

Sorana Cirstea started working with coach Thomas Johansson in October of last year. Nearly six months later she says she is playing the best tennis of her life, and who could argue with her?

Tennis Express

The Romanian has notched multiple Top 5 wins at the same event for the first time this week in Miami, and she’s reached the semifinals at a WTA 1000 event for the first time in nearly a decade, since 2013 Toronto.

Whatever she’s been doing with the former Australian Open champ, who also coached Maria Sakkari and David Goffin, among others, has clearly been working.

“I feel ecstatic, mostly for the work that I've been doing lately because I really worked very, very hard since October, since I started with Thomas Johansson,” Cirstea said after taking out World No.2 Aryna Sabelenka 6-4 6-4 on Wednesday in Miami.

“It's been plenty of work – on the court and off the court – and there were a few months there, at Australia and in the Middle East, where results were not really coming. So you start to have some doubts, but I am at peace now that I know everything that we are working on is working and I am finding my game and I'm very happy about this result.”

Cirstea, currently ranked 74, already back in the Top 50 in the live rankings, and she’s playing like she could make a run at her career-high of No.21 in the WTA rankings. She’ll face either Petra Kvitova or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semis.

Cirstea says that consistency is a new and improved element of her game under Johansson.

“I think I've always had the game,” she said in an interview on the Tennis Channel set. “I was an aggressive player, I was always dangerous but now and then I could be a bit erratic and against the top players you are not allowed to do that. You have to be from the beginning to the end, very solid, very aggressive, very put together. You're not allowed to go away even for one game, because that can be the match.

“So definitely I think I found my peace of mind and of course the results give me confidence and I'm a bit more quiet on the court, but at the same time I'm fighting as hard as I can.”

The Romanian also credits the Swedish coach with helping her diversify her game. Power and aggression has always been her calling card, but now she is reading and reacting to her opponent’s games better, and coming up with Plan B if her original intent is not being felt.

“I think he's great at reading the game,” she said. “So he really is trying to teach me a bit more tennis IQ, meaning to see my position in the court, to see my opponent's position to try to have a better shot selection, to try a little bit on this aggressive game, to come in with a slice now and then, to come in with a high ball, a bit of variety and just to be a more complete player.

“Like I said, I was always dangerous, but I had [plan] A and that was it. Now I feel I can have a good [plan] B instead, in case A is not there that day. So definitely it's been a lot of improvements and I'm very happy with the way things are going.

"Relieved" to Be Playing the Best Tennis of Her Life

Cirstea says that there is one word that can accurately describe the feeling she had after deafeating World No.2 Sabalenka: Relief.

“I think at the end I was a bit relieved – I think that's the word: relieved – because I've been waiting for these results for a while and finally they are coming, so I'm just like (sighs).

"I’m very fit, I’m playing well, I think probably I'm playing the best tennis of my life. I’m in a good place in my life also personally. So things are coming together and I've said it many times: I'm not defined by numbers. I love what I do, and as long as I will enjoy and have results I'll be here. ”