As you gain some, you lose some. Prior to this year, Elina Svitolina used to be known for her excellence in routine WTA tournaments and struggled during the Major events. However, in 2019, this turned out completely otherwise as the Ukrainian reached two Grand Slam semifinals but failed to win a single title throughout the entire year.
A 39-22 win-loss record helped her to end the year as world number six, making the quarterfinals or better at 11 tournaments respectively. A knee injury masked Svitolina’s clay record as she struggled with her health for a couple of months. This could be a blessing in disguise for the 2018 WTA Finals champion as she would have barely anything to defend on her strongest surface.
High Points: Grand Slam excellence, WTA Finals resurgence
Svitolina owns an impressive 15-4 win-loss record at the Major tournaments this year, a huge leap compared to her 9-4 record in the previous year. The Ukrainian proved herself to be a consistent, solid player when she defended her quarterfinal points at the Australian Open, beating the hard-hitting Madison Keys in the process.
Svitolina broke new grounds in her career when she reached back-to-back Major semifinals at Wimbledon and the US Open. She looked extremely impressive during both runs, avoiding upset alerts and beating a top-10 player at a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
In addition, the Ukrainian seemed to be a lock for a WTA Finals place even at the start of the year when she reached three consecutive semifinals at the Qatar Total Open, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the BNP Paribas Open.
Three quarterfinal results during the Asian Swing in Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Beijing ultimately allowed Svitolina to book her spot at the year-ending championships in Shenzhen, despite not reaching a final prior to the prestigious tournament.
Just like 2018, she won all three of her Round Robin matches. This year, she did one step better after qualifying for the semifinals without dropping a set. Svitolina reached her first final of the year at the eleventh hour but failed to defend her title as she was defeated by top-ranked Ashleigh Barty in straight sets.
Low Points: Troublesome knee injury causing troubles all year
Svitolina’s knee issues became prominent from the Miami Open, going on a three-match losing streak extending until Roland Garros. The Ukrainian was unable to perform her best on her favoured surface, clay, being forced to endure through early exits and falling in the rankings. Another losing streak soon followed, after being handed a straight-sets loss by Garbine Muguruza in Paris and losing both her openers in the grass-court preparation tournaments.
Despite making the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career, she was unable to make the encounter competitive on both occasions as she only clinched four games against both eventual champion Simona Halep at Wimbledon and the legendary Serena Williams at the US Open.
The knee always seemed to have caused trouble throughout the year, being forced to retire in the second round of the Guangzhou Open and dealing with tough losses on multiple occasions. Being unable to win a title would be a major disappointment for Svitolina, but she should be proud of all her efforts this year considering her health issues.
Season Grade: B
It was a conflicting season for Svitolina, and it was difficult trying to determine whether she had a good year. Her struggles on the tour were masked by her breakthroughs at the Major tournaments, but definitely, it can be considered an underwhelming year for the Ukrainian who used to be so clinical in the smaller tournaments.