ROME, Italy - Elina Svitolina returns to the Top 10 and ascends to the top of the Porsche Race to Singapore leaderboard after winning her eighth career title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, defeating former World No.2 Simona Halep, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
"Every single day, everyone is working very hard," Svitolina said of winning her second Premier 5 title. "They are waiting for these kind of moments when there is a right moment and the right day.
"I think I can be proud of myself for handling the pressure, because I played some tough matches here. Today I needed to show that I am there and I want to win and I'm ready to do it."
The No.8 seed is in the midst of a career-best season, winning back-to-back titles at the Taiwan Open and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and kicking off the clay court season with another win at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Cup.
Svitolina won her first match in six meetings against No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova en route to the final, and faced her toughest test yet in Halep, who was aiming for the elusive Madrid-Rome double last earned in 2013 by 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
"I saw she was really like playing and moving really good. It was kind of expected that she would be tired.
"So I was trying to stay there, to put the pressure and to be there in the right moment, to be ready, at least to give myself a chance to come back in the second set."
The Romanian eased out to a 5-2 lead to start the match only to roll her ankle as she closed in on the opening set, eventually clinching it two games later as the Ukrainian youngster began working her way into the match.
"At 5-3 in the second set, I turned to hit an inside out forehand, I felt it again," Halep explained after the match. "That's why I called to tape it, because I was scared not to do something worse.
"I never like to give up during the match. I don't want to stop the matches. So I just wanted to try to win the second set."
Taking a 3-1 and later a 5-3 lead in the second, Svitolina held off several fightbacks from Halep to break and level the match in the 12th game, starting a string of seven straight games to put herself on the brink of victory.
Halep held down 0-5 and gave Svitolina all she could handle in a riveting final game, but the new PRTS No.1 held on to take the win after two hours and seven minutes on court.
In all, Svitolina struck 25 winners to 37 unforced errors and converted seven of 11 break point chances, while Halep hit 30 winners to 47 errors.
"After the end of the tournament, it's always a big relief that the tournament is finished and even bigger relief when you win. I will train on Wednesday. My team was begging me to go back home, because they are tired, as well.
"I'm going to Paris. I'm going to enjoy a couple of days with my friends, just chill and recover properly and be ready for first match in Paris."