Svitolina: Belief is the key

Elina Svitolina is one of the rising stars of world tennis. The world No.19 is excited about coming to India for the Champions Tennis League (CTL) to be played in six cities from November 23 to December 6.

Elina Svitolina won her maiden WTA Title in Pune in 2012.   -  Getty Images

Elina Svitolina is one of the rising stars of world tennis. The world No.19 is excited about coming to India for the Champions Tennis League (CTL) to be played in six cities from November 23 to December 6.

The 21-year-old from Ukraine, who was ranked a career-best 15 in August this year, after her quarter-final entry at the French Open, has a soft corner for India, as it was in Pune in 2012, that she won her maiden WTA title.

Svitolina has fond memories of the “amazing week, good Indian food and the warmth of helpful people’’, when she pocketed her second biggest prize of $20,000 of the season then, after the US Open in which she had qualified and lost to Ana Ivanovic in the first round.

More than the money, Svitolina was happy about getting 160 WTA points that shot her rankings up at that time. She has not looked back since!

After making the semi-finals in Zhuhai last week that fetched her 240 WTA points and $200,000 in prize money, Svitolina says that she has one more stop in France before she heads to India.

“I was really playing a good game to make the semi-finals in China and that is a good sign for me for the next season. My main goal is to get into the top 10’’, said Svitolina to Sportstar, over the phone from Limoges, France.

She is obviously thrilled to be able to finish the season in the top 20, even though she is quick to stress that the results do not matter as long as she enjoys her time on court and stays focused towards improvement.

“It is more about my game, and my confidence. France was not in the original plan, but I got an invitation’’, she explained.

She has followed men’s tennis and knows the contribution of Greg Rusedski and Marcos Baghdatis, her teammates in the Punjab Marshalls team in the CTL.

“It has been a long season. But, I am enjoying my time on court. I am looking forward to the Champions League. It has a different format, but I know that it is about being focused on winning one point at a time. I am sure it is going to be a great experience and would help me improve and grow as a player. I will try to do my best’’, Svitolina said, conceding that it would be an interesting challenge for her on her maiden appearance.

“Baghdatis and Rusedski have been such a big part of men’s tennis. Even now, they play great’’, she said.

Looking back at the season, Svitolina felt that she could have been better but for some tough losses in Wimbledon and the US Open.

“There are a few things to work on. My coach Ian Hughes and I have done a good job together for the last year and a half. We are on the right way. We hope to prepare better for next season’’, she said.

Apart from the enjoyable tennis, Svitolina is looking up to visiting the Taj Mahal and see the cities around, during the CTL.

“Whenever I get time, I like to visit the cities. Otherwise, I am reading most of the time, especially in long flights. Music and good movies are great, but I spend more time reading books. I read everything’’, she said.

Indian tennis has a lot of aspiring girls, for whom Sania Mirza, the world No.1 doubles star, with ten titles this season is too much of an icon. They perhaps need a realistic target and guidance.

“The key is to believe in yourself and your dreams. Just work for your dreams. It will come some day. You have to keep working every day with belief’’, Svitolina said.

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