WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | Elina Svitolina goes in-depth about the biggest title of her career, and the added pressure of reaching the WTA Top 10 ranking.
WTA Staff

DUBAI, UAE - Elina Svitolina is riding high after her big victory at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, her second title of the year.

Svitolina dropped just one set en route to the title - posting back-to-back wins over Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki along the way - and on Monday the Ukrainian will be rewarded with her WTA Top 10 debut.

WTA Insider caught up with Svitolina after a whirlwind week in Dubai, where she capped off a 12-match winning streak with the biggest title of her career.

Insider: Congratulations Svitolina. You're the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships champion, inside the WTA Top 10, and No.2 on the Road To Singapore Leaderboard - are you overwhelmed?
Svitolina: No, I try just to focus on my game when I go on court, and everything I just leave behind. For me it's very important to be mentally there - don't think, don't let bad thoughts do bad things with my game.

So I don't really think about it. But of course, if I had lost somewhere I would feel it. Like, "come on, you did something good!" Now I'm winning and winning and I want more and more, so that's why I try to focus on my game.

Insider: Every season for you has been better and better. It's been a steady climb, without the ups and downs of other young players. How do you describe your level of ambition?
Svitolina: I always try to take one step at a time. It's very important for me to not rush things, and to stay very positive with myself. I did a lot of work with all the coaches I've had and my new team, so it's always nice to have different opinions on my game. With Justine as well, it was an amazing year.

I'm very happy with the way I'm playing now. Of course, there's so many things that I need to work on, and I'm looking forward to new challenges.

Insider: What's the most fun thing about being a professional tennis player?
Svitolina: I think matches like this. A final, where you have so much pressure, when you have this kind of emotions, you just want to win so badly and achieve your goals, your dreams. This desire, this feeling is what makes you go crazy and work really hard.

That's what I love about tennis - there's always these small achievements that you have and it always drives you to go for more and work harder.

Insider: Was there ever a moment when that was difficult? You're in a 12-match winning streak, but in the past has it been difficult to find that motivation?
Svitolina: Of course there's been ups and downs with me, with my game and with my career. There will be more in the future. The only thing I can do is accept this and work hard and go on court, the gym, work even harder and always have this goal in my mind. That's what drives me. I think I'm very lucky that it's been going very consistently.

Insider: This is the biggest title of your career - after winning five International-level tournaments, does this win feel like you've proved something?
Svitolina: I was just trying to play my best and always try to fight, even when it's not working well or it's a bad day, try to fight over and over again. Because when I'm playing well, I've already proved myself. When I'm playing well, I can play top tennis. I try to always find this in myself - sometimes it doesn't work but I try to accept it and work and work and work.

Insider: What are the areas of your game you think you still need to improve?
Svitolina: I need to sit with my coaches and go through this tournament, because there are many things to work on. Now it's tough to say because I won the tournament. Those wins brought me a lot of confidence, but still I want to learn more and more. I want to achieve a different level, and I'm sure I can improve and learn to play smarter.

Insider: And finally, you've got two tattoos on your right hand, "om" and "carpe diem" - what do they mean to you?
Svitolina: For me there's been tough moments in my life and I'm very proud of the way I've handled everything. Even in this final, I was in the moment. So I try to just enjoy the moment. And I was very emotional when I was young, I couldn't stay calm. Of course, this comes with experience.

This is just life - I try to learn every day something new. It's very exciting, the life I have now, playing tennis and achieving my goals. And of course I'm very lucky as well.


Hear more from Svitolina in the latest episode of the WTA Insider Podcast: