Elina Svitolina Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Elina Svitolina, back-to-back champion for last two years, departed regretting her inability to complete a rare hat-trick of titles at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Beaten in three sets by Swiss girl Belinda Bencic in Friday’s late semi-final (2-6, 6-3, 6-7), Svitolina was left to ponder her own inadequacies rather than her opponent’s guile. “This really couldn’t have been any more closer. But yeah, it happens,” a disappointed Svitolina admitted.

“I wish I could play better. I did some unforced errors in the moments where I am not supposed to make errors. I know she took her chance and that was the end,” she added.

Svitolina had things under control while serving out the deciding third set but the Ukrainian crumbled as Bencic went for her shots. “It was difficult, as you can see. I didn’t do so many first serves and that’s why I think I lost that game,” she fumed.

The outgoing champion, a winner in Dubai in 2017 and 2018, remained gracious on Bencic’s fine form. “I think generally she played a good match. I mean a good match and it was really a close one. Other than this, there is nothing much to say,” she shrugged.

Svitolina hoped she could have remained more consistent in her approach and gameplan. “I put three balls more over the net. This was the most important because in the first set I was a bit struggling to put more than two balls across,” she said.

“That’s why I think it made a difference and I was in the match in the second set,” she added.