News & Media

Svitolina: Baghdatis something different I was looking for

5 January 2020, by Dan Imhoff

When a player of Elina Svitolina’s calibre cracks the top three in the world for three straight seasons it comes with the territory that expectations will mount.

After 27 straight Grand Slam appearances, the Ukrainian finally broke her quarter-final hoodoo in 2019, with back-to-back showings in major semi-finals at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.

This despite a persistent knee injury, which heavily hindered her season including a horror stretch on clay.

Defeats to slam champions Simona Halep and Serena Williams in those respective semi-finals have only galvanised the 2018 Brisbane International champion’s belief she is ready to take that next step up in 2020.

“There was a little bit of everything, the injury as well gave me some thoughts to think about,” Svitolina said.

“And good wins, bad wins, making semi-finals definitely brought me the belief that I could make one step further and I had the chance to play in the biggest stages.

“[It] gave me lots of confidence at that particular point. And there was different kind of situations, I think, in both years.

“I think maybe 2019 was tough, more tough than [2018] because there were more sad moments, I would say … What I learned for the past year [is] that you have to stay really positive on even the bad moments and try to move forward and just be yourself.”

Having made inroads under the guidance of coach Andrew Bettles over the past two years, the Ukrainian made an addition late last season to her coaching team – a popular name familiar as a player to the Brisbane International, former finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

“As an ex-player he sees the game from his point and it’s something different that I was looking for, to add into my game,” the 25-year-old said.

“For sure we improved massively with Andy [Bettles] for the past years I’ve been working with him and he knows me very, very good.

“For me it’s important to add the small things that can improve my game and that’s what I’m looking for … I really enjoy the atmosphere when we are all three of us on the court and that’s been going well so far.”

Just don’t expect the Cypriot’s penchant for breaking the odd racquet or four to rub off on his charge.

“Well, no, hopefully not,” Svitolina laughed. “I love my racket, so I don’t want to do that.”

The No.4 seed opens her 2020 campaign against American Danielle Collins and could run into top seed Ashleigh Barty – her WTA Finals conqueror last season – in the semi-finals.