2018 WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina is happy and healthy back on the hardcourts. Can she rediscover her early-season form to qualify for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen?
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
July 29, 2019

SAN JOSE, USA - World No.7 Elina Svitolina did not waste much any time basking in the afterglow of her first major semifinal run at Wimbledon. Healthy again after a knee injury derailed what was a strong start to her season, the 24-year-old went right back in the gym to ready for a return to the hardcourts, her best surface. 

"It didn't take me so much time because I'm the type of person who likes to go to the gym and likes to work," Svitolina told reporters at All Access Hour at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, where she is the top seed. The Ukrainian has a bye into the second round and will play either defending champion Mihaela Buzarnescu or Daria Kasatkina in her opening match.

"I'm still managing [the injury], but it is much better. I feel more confident in my footwork and in general, I feel better. 

"I didn't really expect at the beginning of the year it would be that tough with my injury. I understood it could be tough with your tennis and I went through this moment many times. But with the injury, it was one of the first moments where I felt that I couldn't really do anything. I had to rest, I had to really do nothing. It was really tough. But you experience this and you learn from it."

Boosted by her Wimbledon run, Svitolina looks primed to continue what she started on the hardcourts earlier this year before her knee injury. After winning the biggest title of her career last fall at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Svitolina looked on form, making the Australian Open quarterfinals, Doha semifinals, Dubai semifinals, and Indian Wells semifinals. 

From there, Svitolina suffered the most prolonged injury setback of her career. After going 13-5 over the first 2.5 months of the year, she went 1-6 over the next 3.5 months before putting together her best run at a major at Wimbledon. 

"Definitely I was not expecting to do my first Slam semifinal at Wimbledon," Svitolina said.

"It was a great step for me after all the pain and the tough moments mentally more than anything else, to go through this. The work that I did and all the tough moments that I went through, now it was good that I played well and competed well. So it was a great tournament for me." 

"I think I definitely learned a lot from the experience that I gained during Wimbledon. You have to really be patient. You have to work hard for the opportunity. I think it's important to not think too much. If you have a goal, just work towards it even if it's some tough times. 

"It's going to come. If you've been there at the top then you have a chance to come back."

Asked whether her injury stall forced her to re-evaluate her goals for the season, Svitolina said no. Her goal remains the same as it was at the start of the year: qualify for the Shiseido WTA Finals Shenzhen. 

"My goal is to play in Shenzhen in the finals," Svitolina said. "Of course, there are a few other goals in tennis, you want to be No.1, you want to win a Slam, but since the beginning of the year my goal was to improve my game and each time I go out on court to give my best. To be better each day, to be more confident in yourself and, in general, try to enjoy the tough moments." 

With her Wimbledon semifinal, Svitolina moved up to No.10 on the Porsche Race to Shenzhen. Last year, she became the first woman to go undefeated at the WTA Finals since Serena Williams. With the announcement that an undefeated champion in Shenzhen will earn $4.75 million, the biggest prize money check in the history of men's or women's professional tennis, Svitolina laughed. 

"I was one year too early," she said.

"It's great for women's tennis in general. Anywhere in sport anywhere, women are doing great. I think it's great that people and sponsors are investing in women's sports and it's great. It's going to get even better in a few years. 

"So it's a great opportunity. It's the goal for everyone to make the Finals."