NEW YORK, NY, USA - Fresh off her second consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, No.5 seed Elina Svitolina gave full credit to opponent, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, for playing better on the big points during their US Open clash.
"You are playing in front of the best tennis player in the world," the Ukrainian said in her post-match press conference following the 6-3, 6-1 defeat. "If you don't take it, she just grabs it and there's no chance to take it back."
Svitolina had won their most recent encounter at the 2016 Olympic Games and enjoyed a bright start to the match with three break points on the American's serve, but found herself on the losing end of two marathon games that ultimately set the tone for the match.
"I think she knows what she has to do. She has unbelievable strength. She gives lots of power. There's lots of power behind her shots all the time. That's what makes her an unbelievable, legendary tennis player.
"On the important moments, she step up, always step up, always brings her best game."
For the 24-year-old, there were still positives to take from her fortnight in Flushing Meadows; coming in, she had never made it past the fourth round of the US Open, but ended up earning wins over seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams, countrywoman Dayana Yastremska, and British No.1 Johanna Konta to book the meeting with Serena.
"The last two slams been good for me. I'm very happy the way I could handle the tough moments. Unfortunately both times finished really one-sided, which I have to analyze, I have to sit down with my coach, I have to work a lot mentally on how I have to handle those kind of matches."
While Williams didn't play a perfect match from Svitolina's perspective, the former World No.1 maintained a level she, herself, hopes to emulate at major tournaments in the future.
"I think generally I have to improve my level for when I'm not playing unbelievable, because every day you cannot play unbelievably. My middle level, where I have to just improve everything from the baseline, my shots, my decisions as well, my serve. That's what we going to try and do."
Svitolina next heads to Asia, where she won the biggest title of her young career at the WTA Finals in Singapore last fall. Currently ranked No.9 on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen, she will aim to replicate the form she brought to London and New York in the hopes of employing those improvements to clinch a third straight appearance at the season-ending championships.
"I'm going to recover and see how it goes because been little bit having some issues with my knee, which, again, I don't want to go back into what was in the summer, which was tough.
"I will see how it goes, my health. I'm now going to play few tournaments in China. They're very important, of course. I'm trying to get back in Shenzhen."
Svitolina is scheduled to play the inaugural Zhengzhou Open next week.