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Svitolina happy to fly under the radar as she targets first Grand Slam final

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 11 Jul 2019
  • Svitolina arrived at Wimbledon having lost seven of her last eight matches
  • She's since turned it around to make a first major semi-final
Elina Svitolina (PA Images)

Elina Svitolina arrived at Wimbledon with zero expectations and little fanfare - and her low-key approach has propelled her to within one win of a maiden Grand Slam final.

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Already into a first major semi-final after four previous quarter-final defeats, Svitolina had endured a rough last few months since taking time off the tour to treat a knee injury.

Indeed, Svitolina came into Wimbledon having lost seven of her last eight matches, with her two lead-in event on grass resulting in opening round defeats in Birmingham and Eastbourne. Wimbledon had always been Svitolina’s least successful slam, with the Ukrainian failing to make it past the second round in five of her six appearances, with her best result a fourth round finish in 2017. In poor form and heading into her worst slam, nobody thought Svitolina was going to make an impact this fortnight.

Elina Svitolina (PA Images)
However, Svitolina has used those low expectations to her advantage and has ridden a bit of luck into her first Grand Slam semi-final. On the brink of elimination in the second round against Margarita Gasparyan as the Russian led by a set and was two points away from the win in the second, Svitolina survived as her opponent succumbed to cramp while trying to close out the match, retiring after missing her chances and trailing 6-5 in the second.

Svitolina has made the most of her second chance, taking out Maria Sakkari, Petra Martic and Karolina Muchova - the last two in straight sets - to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.

“Actually [I] was happy no one really looked at my matches before,” Svitolina said. “Everyone was watching other matches, other players. So it was quite different, you know.”
“Before, like going into Roland-Garros a couple of times, I had lots of expectations, lots of pressure … Here I just had probably the pressure from myself. I handle it pretty good.
“It's just about trying to find my game, try to enjoy. Yeah, don't think too much about what can happen.”

Svitolina is trying to maintain her current low-key and relaxed approach to matches - and that mindset certainly helped her again in the quarter-finals when she recovered from 2-5 down in the opening set against Muchova and reeled off five straight games to seize the advantage.

“You just try to think about different things. If you start to think about, OK, it's the first time semi-final, like, stop it. Like, stop it,” she smiled. “Let's think what I'm going to have for dinner.”

With a Grand Slam title suddenly within her grasp, Svitolina next faces a familiar foe in former World No. 1 Simona Halep.



Svitolina holds a 4-3 advantage in the head-to-head, but has won three of their four encounters since the Romanian beat her in that heartbreaking 2017 French Open quarter-final, where Svitolina led 6-3 5-1 and had a match point before Halep pulled off a miracle escape act.

“We played also many times after that quarter-final,” Svitolina said. “I don't really want to think about that one because it didn't go my way.
“It was quite a long time ago now. I think we played four or five times after that. I think I'm a little bit different player now.”

Svitolina vs Halep is scheduled for 1.00pm local time/BST on Centre Court on Thursday July 11. Read a full preview of the match here.


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Svitolina happy to fly under the radar as she targets first Grand Slam final

Elina Svitolina arrived at Wimbledon with zero expectations and little fanfare - and her low-key approach has propelled her to within one win of a maiden Grand Slam final.

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