There’s a famous saying that suggests life’s delays are not life’s denials. That’s something which seems to resonate with 24-year-old Elina Svitolina.
“My dreams when I was younger were to be doing what I’m doing now. My plans are to improve every day, keep healthy and keep in mind the bigger picture for myself,” says Svitolina on her official website profile page.
Understandably for any elite level tennis player, the bigger picture would of course involve winning a Grand Slam title – something that has eluded the 5’9″ Ukrainian to this point in her career.
Still, with that said, the former French Open junior champion has enjoyed a lot of success since turning pro in 2010.
Today, Svitolina is the fourth ranked player in the world; she has won 13 WTA singles titles, including a recent win at the WTA Finals event in Singapore.
Looking back at her 2018 season, Svitolina started it off in style by winning at the Brisbane International in January. She then followed up by winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in February; and would go on to win the Internazionali BNL d’Italiain in May.
“She’s very consistent,” said world No. 1, Simona Halep, about Svitolina after losing to the young Ukrainian in the finals of the Italian Open. “She’s very solid on her game.”
But after claiming the Premier 5 event in Rome with an impressive straight sets win over Halep in May, Svitolina has had inconsistent results.
She lost in the third round of the French Open, and in the first round of Wimbledon; she failed to capture another title – until recently in Singapore of course.
After a difficult summer and a tough Asian swing, the 24-year-old won the biggest title of her career when she claimed the WTA Finals event in Kallang, Singapore at the end of October.
Svitolina accomplished the feat with a gutsy three set victory over 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the Championship match.
And after her big victory over Stephens to capture the WTA Finals title, Svitolina spoke about the importance of staying mentally strong throughout.
“I just told myself I’m not gonna step back and just gonna fight for every ball, not going to give any opportunity to her and just gonna be very, very tough. I think this is what willed me to do it today,” she said in her post match presser.
Svitolina also spoke candidly about her recent struggles on the tennis courts leading up to Singapore.
“(The) past five months, there have been lots of work that I was putting (in). That’s why for me it was a little bit disappointing, and I was trying to stay very positive, because I was giving everything on the practice court and (the) results (in tournaments) were, like, not what I expected. That’s why I was a little bit sad,” Svitolina explained.
In retrospect, the 24-year-old speaks about the importance of maintaining a positive mindset through that difficult stretch.
“I was staying very positive, and I think that’s what made the difference in this week. You know, I was able to play well and to compete,” she pointed out.
After winning the WTA Finals, the Ukrainian tennis star was awarded the winner’s trophy by American tennis legend Billie Jean King.
“She congratulated me. That’s the most important. It was very special moment to get the trophy from her,” noted Svitolina, who is known for her athleticism and her complete baseline game.
With great expectations for 2019 and beyond, the woman who won the WTA’s first and last tournaments of the 2018 season acknowledges the significance of her recent triumph in Singapore; and believes it will give her plenty of confidence moving ahead.
“Definitely this is the biggest title of my career. I played against top players and the best players in the world, and, you know, I played my great tennis,” said Svitolina.
“This really shows that I can, you know, yeah, I can play great tennis and definitely gonna bring me lots of confidence.”
Svitolina’s ability to ultimately rise above the inconsistent results after her win in Rome through hard work, discipline and determination on the practise courts, can only serve as a reminder that if she focuses on the things that she can control, then the results will take care of itself.
In the sport of tennis, where so much is played between the ears, having that confidence or belief in yourself and in your game can go a long way.
With Caroline Wozniacki and Halep winning this year at the Australian Open and the French Open respectively, it leaves the young Ukrainian as perhaps the best active player without a Grand Slam title to her name.
It is also interesting to note of all the players currently ranked inside the Top 7, Svitolina is the only one without a Major title.
And while she has been patient in her quest for her maiden Grand Slam, it would appear that her natural talents combined with the confidence that comes from having been crowned WTA Finals champ can get her over that hump; and help her to meet those great expectations for a Major sooner rather than later.
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