Elina Svitolina Proved She Can Perform At The Biggest Events With WTA Finals Win - UBITENNIS
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Elina Svitolina Proved She Can Perform At The Biggest Events With WTA Finals Win

Elina Svitolina proved her doubters wrong with a spectacular unbeaten week at the 2018 WTA Finals that may turn out to be career-defining.

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When Elina Svitolina reaches the end of her career and reflects on her achievements, there is a good chance she will say that her WTA Finals win in 2018 was one of her most important.

Ahead of the event, the newly-installed World No.4 had more to prove than any of the other seven women competing. She has never gone past the quarter-final stage of a Grand Slam and has suffered some disappointing losses recently – most notably to Tatjana Maria in the first round at Wimbledon. She was also badly out of form and had under-achieved in the second half of the year, so not many in the tennis world expected her to make it past the group stage.

Furthermore, the Ukrainian’s struggles led some observers to suggest she did not deserve her place at the season-ending event, and their opinions did not go unnoticed by the player herself. In her press conference after she beat Petra Kvitova in her first round-robin match, Svitolina said, “I want to take this as one to go forward, and for all those people and haters that were saying that I don’t deserve to be here and I’m not good.”

While that first win was impressive, it was soon overshadowed by the Ukrainian’s subsequent victories over Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki which ensured she finished top of the White Group. It would be interesting to hear what the ‘haters’ made of that achievement.

After she beat the Dane, Svitolina brought up the issue again. “I have to look only on my path,” she said. “There are a thousand opinions, million opinions. I just have to do my job and go on court. I’m trying to win every point. I’m not giving any free points, and I just want to continue that way.”

Svitolina shows her mental strength

Unsurprisingly, given her well-documented recent troubles, the Ukrainian also stressed the importance of mental strength in Singapore. Following her win over Wozniacki, she said, “We were both under pressure. This round robin is not easy, no easy matches, no easy scenarios. So I had to fight for every ball, and I think today I was really pushed mentally to go through really, really tough moments.”

Toughness was the theme of the week for Svitolina. She had to overcome harsh criticism, high-quality opponents and stressful match situations to reach her ultimate goal of lifting the Billie Jean King trophy.

However, difficult round-robin matches have a definite upside: they prepare a player perfectly for the semi-finals and the final. So when the Ukrainian geared up for a deciding set against Kiki Bertens in the last four, she knew exactly what to expect because she had already won two three-set matches.

And Svitolina delivered again to book her place in the final. Afterwards, she said, “I was just telling myself, ‘next point, just go for it, don’t wait for anything. Just be out there.’ As my coach said, ‘Just show up and do the job. And then if you lose, you have no regrets.’”

“That’s I think what I did. For me, that really showed that I can play great tennis in big stages. That’s what matters for me. I think it’s a good step for me for the future and for the Grand Slams as well.”

Svitolina passes final test

By the time the final came around, Svitolina had already proved so much to herself and to her doubters. She had proved she could beat the best players in the world, she had proved she can compete brilliantly in high pressure situations on one of the biggest stages in tennis, and she had proved she can handle criticism from others and use it to motivate her. Now she had the chance to give her week the perfect ending.

In the first set, that ideal finish seemed a long way off as Sloane Stephens produced some sparkling tennis to win it 6-3. But to Svitolina’s immense credit, she never let that get her down. She chased down every ball in the second set and continued to go for her shots when the opportunities presented themselves.

The Ukrainian’s attitude paid off. She won the second set 6-2, and then kept her composure in the decider to win it by the same score and clinch the title. It is hard to imagine how a victory could feel any sweeter for a player, or how such a triumph could arrive at a more perfect time, exactly when it was most needed to give that player belief for the challenges ahead.

A positive end to a difficult year

“I think I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone,” Svitolina said in her winner’s press conference. “The third set really showed that I was mentally tough. That’s what made the difference.”

The Ukrainian continued, “I was clear with what I had to do on court. I have been working really, really hard in these past five months even though my results weren’t good. That’s why for me it was a little bit disappointing, and I was trying to stay very positive, because I was giving everything on the practice court and results were not what I expected. That’s why I was a little bit sad.”

One thing is certain: Svitolina is not sad anymore. And, if she build on this success and uses it as a springboard to help her in the Grand Slams, 2019 could be the best year of her career so far.

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Matteo Berrettini battles past Alejandro Tabilo to reach the quarter final in Kitzbuehl

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Matteo Berrettini beat second seed Alejandro Tabilo 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) to reach the quarter final at the Generali Open in Kitzbuehl. 

Berrettini has extended his winning streak to seven consecutive matches following his second title of the year in Gstaad against Quentin Halys. The Italian player won 79% of his first service points.  

Berrettini went up 2-2 0-30 but Tabilo hit two aces to hold  serve. Tabilo led 30-15 at 3-4, but Berrettini hit three aces to hold serve. Berrettini earned his first mini-break to take a 5-4 lead after a double fault from Tabilo and won the final two points to close out the tie-break 7-4. 

Tabilo saved four break points in the second game from 0-40 down to hold serve at deuce. Berrettini went up a break in the eight game to take a 5-2 lead. The Italian player was not able to serve out the match at 5-3 in the second set, as Tabilo broke back in the 10th game. Both players went on serve en route to tie-break. Berrettini earned two mini-breaks to take a 5-2 lead. Tabilo pulled one mini-break back, but Berrettini sealed the win on his third match point.

“Having the chance to just play, feeling good and healthy, fighting for matches is just what I wanted for so many matches. So I am enjoying it and I am looking forward for my next match”, said Berrettini.

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Jannik Sinner Withdraws From Olympics Due To Tonsillitis

Jannik Sinner has withdrawn from the Olympics due to tonsillitis.

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World number one Jannik Sinner has withdrawn from the Olympics due to tonsillitis.

The Italian was well placed to win a medal in Paris but has now had to withdraw from the games due to illness.

It was supposed to be his first Olympics as he was set to be the top seed in both singles and doubles.

However Sinner seems to still be struggling from his health problems that he had at Wimbledon in his quarter-final match against Daniil Medvedev.

In a statement on Twitter Sinner said he was strongly advised to miss the Olympics and will now watch from home.

Sinner will now be replaced in the singles draw by Andrea Vavassori while Luciano Darderi will now team up with Lorenzo Musetti in doubles.

Now Sinner aims to be healthy in time for his title defence in Canada which starts on the 5th of August.

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Coco Gauff ‘Proud’ Of Being Named Olympic Flagbearer alongside Lebron James

Coco Gauff will be the US flagbearer alongside Lebron James at the opening ceremony in Paris.

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Coco Gauff has explained her pride about being named Olympic flagbearer alongside NBA legend Lebron James.

The American found out when Christopher Eubanks revealed the news to Gauff and the rest of the US tennis team in a video that was posted on Instagram.

It was news that came as a shock to Gauff who is set to make her first appearance at the Olympics.

The incredible news got better as she will be flagbearer alongside idol and NBA legend Lebron James.

Speaking about the news Gauff spoke about the pride she feels and how the Olympics is one of her goals for the season, “I still feel like this is all a dream.” Gauff said to Vogue.

“There is no greater honor than being chosen by my fellow athletes to be this year’s flag bearer, especially alongside one of my idols, Lebron. I would say the biggest things on there are to win another Slam, and a medal at the Olympics.”

Gauff is in a good position to win a medal at the Olympics and will be full of confidence heading into the event having reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros, where the Olympic tennis event is being played.

Now the American gets to complete her Olympic experience by having a moment of a lifetime alongside one of America’s all-time great athletes, “I never thought in a million years I would have the honour of carrying the American flag for Team USA in the Opening Ceremony,” Gauff stated.

“I could not be more proud to lead my teammates with LeBron as we showcase our dedication and passion on the biggest stage there is — at a moment where we can bring athletes and fans together from around the world.”

The opening ceremony will take place on Friday evening while the tennis event gets underway on Saturday.

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