Svitolina ready for Rogers Cup
Elina Svitolina has a renewed sense of confidence heading into this year’s Rogers Cup in Toronto.
And for the first time this season, the Ukrainian tennis star is feeling well rested too.
Svitolina, the world No. 7-ranked player on the WTA, took some time away from the court following her first career Grand Slam semifinal appearance at Wimbledon earlier this month to go back to her hometown with boyfriend and No. 19 men’s player Gael Monfils.
The two spent time with Svitolina’s family, sunbathed on a yacht on the Black Sea, attended the Odesa Film Festival, and – most importantly – relaxed.
“I don’t (usually) have a lot of time and when I go there it’s always hectic. But this time I cancelled almost all my media so I could enjoy my time with family,” Svitolina said of the welcome break in her schedule.
“I don’t really get much opportunity to do that. I go (home) maybe twice a year for five days maximum. But it was my first time bringing Gael to Ukraine so we really enjoyed it.”
Svitolina is back in action this week as the top seed at the Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., where she’ll face unseeded Daria Kasatkina of Russia in second-round action on Wednesday.
Then it’s back to familiar territory for the 24-year-old, who will compete at Aviva Centre in Toronto next week for the first time since winning the Rogers Cup women’s title there in 2017.
Svitolina, then just 22, defeated former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki to capture the Rogers Cup while running on fumes after rain forced her to play three matches in two days.
That victory was her third straight Premier-5 level win of the 2017 season, and the circumstances behind it – the late start times, the weather delays, the level of competition she had to claw through just to make the final – gives a little extra weight to that title.
“I think it was a very, very tough tournament for me from the first match,” said Svitolina, who also defeated ninth-ranked Venus Williams, fourth-ranked Garbine Muguruza and second-ranked Simona Halep en route to that championship.
“It was a very tough draw for me and in the end I went through.
“I played two matches in one day, finished one really late, all this stuff happened. So to come through with a title, it’s something I was very proud of and it gave me a boost of confidence. I’ll definitely remember that title for a long time.”
Svitolina continued her success after the 2017 Rogers Cup, reaching a career-high No. 3 ranking a couple weeks later. She won four titles the following year, including the season-ending WTA Finals, but has yet to win a tournament in 2019. A knee injury suffered at the Premier tournament in Dubai in February hasn’t helped her cause.
While the knee has yet to fully heal, Svitolina felt her season start to turn with her Wimbledon semifinal appearance on July 11 (she lost to eventual champion Simona Halep).
“I think it was a good boost for my confidence coming from the injury, and to have such a good result at Wimbledon was something that I worked really hard for,” Svitolina said. “It was a good sign for me that I’m moving in the right direction and I’m feeling better and confident physically as well.”
Svitolina said doctors had advised her to take some time off to let the knee recover, but she brushed the injury aside as something she could play through. In her ninth season on the WTA Tour, Svitolina said she’s still learning her body’s limits.
“It does play into experience,” Svitolina said of her decision to keep playing.
“This is one of my biggest setbacks that I’ve had and it was really tough to come back and to feel good again.
“It was a tough time mentally more than physically... I probably should have taken more time.”
Svitolina said the knee is recovering quicker and better after each tournament now and she feels good otherwise heading into Toronto.
She also doesn’t think there’s any pressure on her as the last woman to win the Rogers Cup at Aviva Centre.
“That was two years back,” said Svitolina, who lost in the semis of the Rogers Cup in Montreal last August.
“(Toronto) is a place where I really love to play... and I’m looking forward to it. It’s more exciting than stressful.”
Elina Svitolina celebrates winning a point against Karolina Muchova during a women’s quarterfinal match during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London on July 9.