Svitolina’s 2018 season could be drawn as an inverted bell-curve. It began brightly with a title in Brisbane and a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open – she was on a nine-match winning streak before losing to Elise Mertens – and continued through the Middle East and onto clay, where she defended her titles in both Dubai and Rome. Also in there was a trip to the quarterfinals in Miami. These results helped her win 25 of her first 31 matches, before a worrying backslide begun.
With an increasingly thin frame, Svitolina fell in the third round at Roland Garros and first round at Wimbledon. She rallied somewhat on North American hard courts but struggled in Asia, losing her opening match in Wuhan and falling at the first hurdle in Beijing after blowing a 6-0 4-1 lead to Aleksandra Krunic. Svitolina admitted it was tough to adapt to her new physique, but after arriving in Singapore with next to no form, she wrenched herself out of her slump and capped the year with an undefeated run to the WTA Finals title – pocketing more than $2.3 million as a reward.
It was this succession of gritty three-set wins over top-eight opposition that has many believing the Ukrainian can take the next step and advance deeper into a Grand Slam tournament in 2019.
After 59 matches played in 2018, Svitolina was:
“I always remember when I lost very painful final against (Eugenie) Bouchard at Wimbledon, juniors (in 2012). This really taught me a lot. I wanted to win that but I lost 6-2, 6-1 something. Because, in that final, I was like so stressed, so scared, that I didn’t even play two balls into the court. So, you know, ever since that moment I decided that, you know, I’m gonna go out there and do something.”
– after defending her title in Rome (Svitolina has gone 13-2 in WTA finals since that junior Wimbledon loss, and has won her last nine straight finals).
“This win definitely now I want to take as one to go forward, and for all those probably people and haters that were saying that I don’t deserve to be here and I’m, you know, not good (smiling). Until the next match I can really enjoy this win.”
– after beating Karolina Pliskova in her first round-robin match at the WTA Finals
“With all the things going on social media, with the opinions about my physique, it wasn’t easy. So this really shows, and I think I’m getting mentally tough … I have to look only on my path. There is a thousand opinions, million opinions. I just have to do my job and go on court. I’m trying to win every point. I’m not giving any free points. Just want to continue that way.
– after going 3-0 in the group stage to reach the semifinals in Singapore
Svitolina loves a photo shoot, with her instagram account peppered with snaps of off-court promotional activities for various sponsors as well as other media opportunities. The biggest was perhaps when she appeared on cover of Elle Ukraine, and she hinted at another shoot to be unveiled on a yet-to-be-known platform …
Late in the Wimbledon fortnight, she soaked up summer in London by attending a Bruno Mars concert with Victoria Azarenka at Hyde Park.
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