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Getting To Know... Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina finished 2012 with a bang, but what makes the former Roland Garros junior champ tick on and off the court?

Published December 18, 2012 11:09

Getting To Know... Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina

Sibling rivalry has helped spawn many a successful tennis career. And for Elina Svitolina, the desire to outdo her older brother on the court has taken her from tennis club entourage to junior Roland Garros champion.

Now, the 18-year-old from Ukraine, who took home the singles title in Paris two years ago, is looking to translate this success to the professional ranks, and the early signs are certainly encouraging; Svitolina has already won three ITF tournaments and in November captured the biggest title of her fledgling career when she defeated Kimiko Date-Krumm in Pune.

Next stop, the Top 100, but before that she spared a few minutes of her time for a quick chat with

How did you start playing tennis?
It's a family thing; my brother, who is nine years older than me, was playing tennis and my parents always took me to the tennis courts with him. I was always watching him and how he was playing, and because he was playing he always got more attention from my parents. I wanted some of that attention, so that why I started to play tennis - to be better than him!

Can you tell us about your family?
My father's name is Mikhail, he has his own business, but most of the time he is busy with my tennis - arranging the hotels, tickets and things like that. My mom is travelling with me during most of the tournaments and her name is Elena. Normally she is someone who is working as a 'needlewoman' - she does everything with clothes. Also, I have an older brother, which I mentioned already, his name is Julian. He works as a tennis teacher in Ukraine and helped me a lot on the court during my youth.

Who coaches you? How long have you been working together?
I am without a coach at the moment. I've been working with a few coaches during the last months on a trial basis, but nothing permanent yet. In the upcoming months, I will decide who I am going to work with in 2013.

How would you describe your style of play?
I see myself mostly as an aggressive player. For the moment, I am working a lot on my serve and it's getting better and better.

Who were your tennis idols growing up?
I like a lot how Andre Agassi used to play. Also, I liked his attitude on the court. And Roger Federer is also one of my favorites. To be honest, I don't really have just one idol in women's tennis; it's more that I like strokes of some players, like the serve of Serena, and the groundstrokes of Kim Clijsters.

What is the best memory of your tennis career to date?
The best memory is winning the title in juniors at Roland Garros. It was an amazing feeling to win this Grand Slam at that age. Also my win in the WTA event in India was a special feeling.

Who has been your toughest opponent to date?
I think it has to be Serena, who I played in the Fed Cup at the beginning of this year. It was really hard to play against her, but I took a lot of experience from the match.

What are your goals in tennis?
To win all the four Grand Slams is my biggest goal.

What is your favorite surface?
I like to play on all surfaces, so I don't really have a favorite.

And tournament?
My favorite tournament is the US Open, because I am in love with New York! I like so much the atmosphere in the city.

How far did you go in your education?
I finished high school two years ago and after that I've completely focused on tennis.

What do you like to do to for fun?
I like to read a good book some of the time. I also like spending time on the beach.

Do you have a favorite book, film, singer or band?
I like to read the books of Nicholas Sparks, they are really awesome. And the film of his book The Notebook is one of my favorite films. For music, I listen to mostly Russian rap and pop.

If you had to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

If you could meet anyone in the world who would you like it to be?
Johnny Depp - his acting is amazing in all his movies.

What would you have done if you hadn't been a tennis player?
I think it would be modeling or something like that. I like this sort of thing.

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