Dubai: Former two-time champion Elina Svitolina is not unduly bothered despite bowing out in the opening round of her favourite Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open on Tuesday.
Back-to-back champion here in 2017 and 2018, Svitolina went down 2-6, 1-6 in just over an hour against American qualifier Jennifer Brady.
Despite the dominance from her opponent, Svitolina was not troubled about her form and plans for the future. “It doesn’t affect my tournament scheduling. I’m going to Doha next week and for now, we have tournaments almost every single week. You have to get ready and you have to regroup. The bad days happen and unfortunately, today was one of them,” Svitolina told media.
“You have to try to avoid to let it happen next week. I’m going to get back on the court and work on my game,” she promised.
Her early exit couldn’t have come at a worse time. Seeded No.3 for this event, the 25-year-old had a great finish last season during which she became the first Ukrainian ever to reach a Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon and then again at the US Open.
“I’m trying still to find what’s going on, what I have to add to improve. It’s very tough to pick one thing but I have to be stronger physically. I have to be in a better shape. Just everything has to get better,” she candidly admitted.
Despite failing to reach a final during the season, it was Svitolina’s overall consistency that fetched her a spot as the eighth seed at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen for the third successive year. Her semi-final match against Belinda Bencic was cut short when the Swiss girl retired with a leg injury down 1-4 in the final set, meaning that Svitolina advanced to the final for the second year in succession.
“I think at this level, it’s tough to pick just one thing because everybody is putting the ball over the net and you have to play long rallies, you have to build the points. It’s not one thing. I mean, generally I think I was more composed with my game. Now it’s little bit of a struggle. Maybe, I don’t know, mentally or something. Everything needs to get better to get back on the level at least where I was,” she hoped.
Svitolina found it doubly tough to accept the result as Dubai is the highest level tournament that she has won so far. “Yes, I play so well here for so many years. That’s why it’s more upset about that,” she said.
“It’s very tough to say now what happened, why did I play the way I played. I wish I could play better here because I really love to compete here. I have great memories,” she shrugged.