Elina Svitolina opened up about a tough season ahead of her debut appearance in the semi-finals of the 2018 WTA Finals. The Ukranian went undefeated in round robin play, which included a victory over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
Ukranian credits new coach
After successfully defending her titles in Dubai and Rome, Svitolina admitted “I had a really, really tough second part of the season. I was actually surprised because I was very positive and I just keep fighting.”
The second half of her year included a third round loss at the French Open, a second round loss in Wuhan and first round defeats at the U.S. Open and Beijing.
She credits new coach Andrew Bettles with keeping her positive throughout her struggles: “I stopped with my coach, with Thierry [Ascione]. It was not easy, with all the things going on social media with the opinions about my physique.
“This really shows that I'm getting mentally tough. That's what I have been working on really hard. Definitely, Andy helps me a lot, and it's something that really I appreciate.”
Svitolina comes through pressure-packed moment against Wozniacki
Needing to win just one set in her final round robin match against the defending champion, the Ukranian fell behind by a set before rallying to take the second set 7-5 and going on to win the match 6-3 in the deciding third set.
“We were both under pressure. This round robin is not easy, no easy matches, no easy scenarios. So I had to fight for every ball, and I think today I was really pushed mentally to go through really, really tough moments," Svitolina said.
Wozniacki saved four set points as she served to stay in the set and continue defense of her title. She credits the Dane for her outstanding play on those key points.
“She was playing unbelievable on the set points. I think I made only one error, which was really bad. I was disappointed, but the rest, you know, she was playing like a champion. I was expecting this because all the matches before, she always, when she was down, she was, you know, going for it.
“When I finally got my fifth set point, I said to myself, ‘I'm going to be tough as a nail and not going to give anything.'"
"It's very tough to escape because, in the end, you're always gonna hear. It's not only voices on social media. I had a few opinions on the situation.”
Svitolina looks ahead to semifinals against Bertens
The Ukranian is not letting any outside negativity affect her as she gets ready for her semi-final match against Kiki Bertens. “I have to look only on my path. There is a thousand opinions, a million opinions. I just have to do my job and go on court. I'm trying to win every point. I'm not giving any free points, and I just want to continue that way.
“It definitely made me stronger in those tough moments. Now I'm just enjoying this success. The job is not done yet, but these three matches that I had, they have been really tough. Today I saw this challenge. I'm really, really happy the way I could handle it.”