SINGAPORE - Elina Svitolina continued to open up about dealing with critics after securing a perfect 3-0 record in round robin play at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
“I had really, really tough second part of the season,” she said after a dramatic win over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki. “I was actually surprised, because I was very positive and I just keep fighting.”
Svitolina dedicated her first round robin victory to “the haters,” those who she said felt her spot in Singapore was undeserved, and credits coach Andrew Bettles with helping to keep her strong through all the chatter.
“I stopped with my coach, with Thierry [Ascione]. It was not easy, with all the things going on social media with the opinions about my physique.
“This really shows that I'm getting mentally tough. That's what I have been working on really hard. Yeah, definitely Andy helps me a lot, and it's something that really I appreciate it.”
The Ukrainian faced a unique mental test on Thursday, needing to win just one set to advance into the semifinals, an unenviable position that stumped Angelique Kerber back in 2015.
“We are both was under pressure. This round robin is not easy, no easy matches, no easy scenarios. So I had to fight for every ball, and I think today I was really pushed mentally to go through really, really tough moments.”
The toughest moment came late in the second set as Wozniacki saved four set points as she served to stay, not only in the set, but also in the tournament.
“She was playing unbelievable on the set points. I think I made only one error, which was really bad. I was disappointed, but the rest, you know, she was playing like a champion. I was expecting this because all the matches before, she always, when she was down, she was, you know, going for it.
“When I finally got my fifth set point, I said to myself, ‘I'm going to be tough as a nail and not going to give anything.’”
As Wozniacki’s ball went long, Svitolina let out an emotional celebration, riding that momentum into a three-set victory that was clearly vindicating in light of the doubts and doubted with which she had previously dealt.
"It's very tough to escape because you, in the end, you're always gonna hear. It's not only voices on social media. I had a few opinions on the situation.”
Svitolina sails into the semifinals finally unencumbered by negativity, achieving a breakthrough in what was a full circle win over Wozniacki, who beat her at this event last year.
“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, and I just want to continue that way.
“It definitely made me stronger in, you know, those tough moments. Now I'm just enjoying this success. The job is not done yet, but these three matches that I had, they have been really tough. Today I saw this challenge. I'm really, really happy the way I could handle it.”