SINGAPORE - A week removed from the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, former World No.3 Elina Svitolina couldn’t be sure she had secured a second straight appearance. Rather than fixate on the Race to Singapore leaderboard, the young Ukrainian opted to turn her attention elsewhere.
“I was preparing to play in Zhuhai, actually,” she said during Saturday’s All Access Hour. “I would be more sad if I would be preparing to play Singapore and then not got in. That's why I was, like, ‘Okay, I'm going to play in Zhuhai.’”
Svitolina reached the final when last she played the Henqin Life Elite Trophy Zhuhai, and aims to replicate that spirit this week, with the goal of bettering her round-robin finish from her Singapore debut.
“When I will step on that court, I will just try to stay really focused on my game, and that's I think what I can learn from last year.
“Last year I was maybe too emotional, just not there competing against the opponent. I was just going with the flow, which probably is not the great thing to do.”
Armed with a new attitude, she opens against two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova. The Czech has won her last seven matches against Svitolina, including that championship matches two years ago in Zhuhai.
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“I just practiced yesterday with Elina, which is a bit funny,” Kvitova noted in her pre-tournament press conference. “She was only one player who I practiced with, and I'm meeting her in my first match.
“She's a very consistent player. She can catch a lot of balls, which of course I'm not that kind of player but I'm trying to play pretty aggressive and like obviously I made some kind of winners against her when we played before.”
Looking to add strength to better battle big hitters like Kvitova, Svitolina plans to hire a fitness trainer during the off-season, and even with a season of highs and lows - starting the year with the Brisbane International trophy and defending titles at both the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and the Internazionali BNL d’Italia - the 24-year-old feels her season speaks for itself.
“It's very important to stay positive. I think I had a good season to finish it here. It's definitely a really, really positive thing.”
With or without the Billie Jean King Trophy, Svitolina is set to end the season with a win, taking home the Diamond Aces Award for her service in promoting the sport through off-court engagements, clinics, and other activities.
“I didn't even know that this award existed. So, you can see that I'm doing these kind of events not just to get an award in the end of the year.
"For me, it's very important to give back something to kids, to sponsors, to the fans who are, following us, supporting us week in and week out. It's just the part of tennis, because without them, there would be no fun. There would be no motivation, for us.
“When I have the opportunity and when I have power, I always, go for the visits, to do clinics with kids. We are humans, and we like to interact. I think it's one of the most important things.”
Svitolina takes on Kvitova in the first match of the WTA Finals on Sunday evening.