Elina Svitolina lost in the opening round of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, falling to Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan 6-3 3-6 6-4.
Svitolina hasn’t always been one of the smoothest players when it comes to making that transition from the slower clay courts to the grass, and this looked to be another example of that.
Elina Svitolina Crashes out Early in Birmingham
Gasparyan was certainly the player that looked to be the more willing to drive through her groundstrokes, taking on the backhand down the line whenever she could and really stealing time away from the Ukrainian, who couldn’t really get things going consistently.
The Ukrainian momentarily steadied things somewhat to take the second set, but then fell down a quick double break in the decider and ultimately left herself way too much to do against an opponent who clearly was enjoying things and looked far more settled from the baseline throughout. Gasparyan struck 33 winners in total in this encounter, but the real key was her commitment to her shots on all of the important points. With Svitolina’s usually smooth movement not quite being the same on a peculiar surface for her, it opened up plenty of opportunity for Gasparyan to get ahead in the point and dictate things from there.
Svitolina speaks about the loss
Svitolina tried to remain ever so positive after another early exit this season. She talked about her level, things she could have done a little bit differently today, but also how her health is at present.
“There is not so many of them (one handed backhand) and it looks good and it can be quite difficult and they have a good slice as well. I wish it was better but I think there was some positives there. I see what i have to work on and take this match as progress, forwards and just only to look for the positives and nothing else. I feel better. I did some recovery work and practiced a little bit as well, so it hasn’t been easy for the past three months, I would say. I’m just happy to be on the court playing and not with the pain I had previously.”
On whether she can play her way into form, she was upbeat. “For sure I’m going to play Eastbourne and get some matches and hopefully I can play well and just go from there. Take one match at a time. There is no rush for anything, I just want to be pain-free and happy in general.”
“Definitely, I wish that I could serve better. I played one really poor game on serve in the 3rd set so that really gave her the chance to dominate the third set. I think I did few unforced errors which gave her the second break and that it was really tough to come back. It just didn;t happen for me today. A little bit and a few of the important ones she went for it and I played safe so on grass it is no acceptable. That gave her the confidence to go for more. This is what I have to work on and be really aggressive in the next matches on grass. Something new I experienced now. Mentally it is not easy to come back and to lose a couple of times first round. That’s what we are working on with my team. This match is sad that I lost, but just happy to have the chance to play in these kind of tournaments.”
Svitolina is still miles from where she needs to be as she looks for that Top-10 consistency on serve and off the ground, but she was keen to state that her expectations are non-existent on the grass and that she is taking each match as they come along.
“I don’t have any expectations. I’m just playing tournaments and one match at a time. So I just want to win as many matches as I can. If I don’t then it is not meant to be. I try my best.”
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