SINGAPORE - Elina Svitolina silenced her share of doubters this week after winning the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, shutting the door on a difficult season that gives her renewed perspective heading into 2019.
“I think I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone,” she said after outlasting Sloane Stephens to win the biggest title of her career. “It’s definitely a good statement for myself and good boost of - I can't say confidence, because I try to always have confidence in myself, to have it is my personality.
“I think for me it's just that the third set really showed that I was mentally tough. That's what made the difference.”
That steely fortitude came after a trying six month stretch that nearly caused her to miss out on a second straight WTA Finals appearance, taking early losses at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and China Open just two weeks ago.
“I was clear with what I had to do on court. I have been working really, really hard. Even though my results wasn't good, since Wimbledon, I had four or five weeks where I was on court and in the gym working.
“These past five months, there have been lots of work that I was putting in. That's why for me it was a little bit disappointing, and I was trying to stay very positive, because I was giving everything on the practice court and results were, not what I expected. That's why I was a little bit sad.”
Svitolina, 24, channeled that disappointment into one career breakthrough after another in Singapore, ending a seven match losing streak to Petra Kvitova, avenging a shock loss to Caroline Wozniacki, and winning two more three-setters over Kiki Bertens and Stephens to capture the title.
“I was staying very positive, and I think that's what made the difference in this week. I was able to play well and to compete.”
Her off-season will be a busy one, addressing health issues and readdressing her team, debating whether to take on a full-time coach in addition to current captain Andrew Bettles.
“I'm going to speak with Andy and see the best options, which coaches are available at the moment to try to work, you know, for some time. It's a little bit easier to work during the off-season, because you're not like under crazy pressure. It's not the same as if you start, for example, you know, in the middle of the season.
“I have to really think -- I don't want to take, like, just a person and then, you know, split in two weeks. So it's a big decision.”
In the meantime, the Ukrainian youngster will reflect on words exchanged with WTA Legends Ambassador Billie Jean King, for whom the WTA Finals singles trophy is named.
“It's a secret,” she joked. “She congratulated me. That's the most important. It was very special moment to get the trophy from her, her trophy.”