Elina Svitolina (Ukrainian: Еліна Світоліна, [ɛˈlʲinɑ sβiˈtɔlʲinɑ]; born 12 September 1994) is a Ukrainian tennis player. Having turned professional in 2010, she reached her career-high ranking of world No. 3 on 11 September 2017.
Svitolina has won 13 WTA singles titles, her most significant coming at the 2018 WTA Finals, whilst winning three of five Premier 5-level tournaments in 2017, namely the Dubai Tennis Championships, the Italian Open, and the Canadian Open. At the 2015 French Open, she reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal where she was defeated by former champion Ana Ivanovic. In February 2017, after winning the title in Dubai, Svitolina made history by becoming the first Ukrainian woman to break into the top 10 rankings.
In her career, Svitolina has scored victories over the likes of Grand Slam champions Ivanovic, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Angelique Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza, Caroline Wozniacki, Simona Halep, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitová, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta and Sloane Stephens. Her first top-10 win came over Kvitová in 2014 at the Cincinnati Open, where she would go on to reach her first semifinal at a Premier 5 tournament. She also has six wins over a world No. 1 to her name, three over Kerber, two over Simona Halep and one over Serena Williams. In doubles, Svitolina has won two titles, both at the İstanbul Cup, in 2014 and 2015. Her career-high ranking in doubles play is world No. 108, which she reached on 4 May 2015.
Early life and background
Svitolina was born in Odessa to parents Mikhaylo Svitolin (a former wrestler) and Olena Svitolina (a former competitive rower). She has an older brother named Yulian. As a child, Elina noticed that her brother was getting a lot of attention because he was playing tennis. This inspired her to take up the sport to regain some of the attention of her father. She started playing tennis at the age of five. Svitolina and her family moved to Kharkiv when she was 13 years old, after businessman Yuriy Sapronov had become her sponsor. Sapronov had seen her play at one of his children's tournaments when she was aged 12 and was impressed, leading to his investment in her training and further professional development.
Svitolina officially still resides in Kharkiv; however, she trains abroad, which limits her presence in Odessa and/or Kharkiv - and primarily lives in London. She claims that in her early career she turned down offers to change her citizenship in exchange for "large financial sums".
Svitolina's greatest achievement as a junior was winning the French Open girls event in 2010, beating Tunisian Ons Jabeur in the final. She reached her first professional singles final at the $25,000 tournament in Kharkiv in May 2010. Svitolina also reached the final of the girls' singles event at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships, where she lost to Eugenie Bouchard. Svitolina qualified for the US Open. She was defeated in the first round by 12th seed and eventual quarterfinalist Ana Ivanovic. She won the WTA 125K Royal Indian Open title in Pune, defeating Andreja Klepač, Rutuja Bhosale, Luksika Kumkhum, former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic, and Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm in the final.
2013: First WTA title
Svitolina gained direct entry into the Australian Open, where she was defeated by fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the first round. She won her first WTA title at the Baku Cup by beating Shahar Pe'er; in doing so, Svitolina became the first teenager to win a WTA tournament since February 2012. The victory also translated into a jump of 32 spots in the WTA rankings, landing her at No. 49 on 29 July 2013.
2014: Ascendancy, second WTA title
At the Australian Open, Svitolina defeated two-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Australian Open quarterfinalist Svetlana Kuznetsova in the opening round in straight sets. She went on to reach the third round, losing to Sloane Stephens in straight sets.
After defending her Baku Cup title by beating Bojana Jovanovski in the final, Svitolina played at the Western & Southern Open where she recorded the first top-ten victory of her career, defeating recently crowned Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová in the second round. She proceeded to reach her first quarterfinal at Premier-5 level, eventually losing to Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.
Svitolina reached her first Premier-5 semifinal in the first edition of the WTA tournament in Wuhan, defeating Camila Giorgi, Sabine Lisicki, Garbiñe Muguruza via walkover, and Angelique Kerber before losing to Petra Kvitová in the semifinals.
2015: First Grand Slam quarterfinal and top 20 debut
She began the new season at the Brisbane International where she reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Maria Sharapova. At the Australian Open, Svitolina reached the third round, and won the first set against world No. 1 and eventual champion Serena Williams before losing in three sets. She fell in the second round in both Dubai and Doha, losing in tight three-set matches to Petra Kvitová and Victoria Azarenka respectively.
As the 23rd seed in Indian Wells, she defeated Alison Van Uytvanck and Lucie Šafářová, before losing in the fourth round to Timea Bacsinszky. The following week in Miami, she defeated Bojana Jovanovski, before losing in the third round to the eighth seed Ekaterina Makarova. As the top seed at a tournament for the first time in Bogotá, Svitolina reached the semifinals, defeating Louisa Chirico, Danka Kovinić and Irina Falconi, before losing to eventual champion Teliana Pereira.
She continued her successful start to the clay-court season by winning her third career title and first on clay in Marrakech, recovering from 2–5 down in the opening set to defeat Tímea Babos in straight sets. The victory propelled her to a career high ranking of 21. She also reached the semifinals in doubles with compatriot Olga Savchuk. The following week in Madrid, after easily dispatching Daniela Hantuchová, Svitolina lost to Ana Ivanovic for the sixth time in her career. A similar scenario occurred in Rome, where she defeated Flavia Pennetta in straight sets before losing to Venus Williams.
At the French Open, after comfortably seeing off Yanina Wickmayer in her opening match, Svitolina had to recover from 0–3 in the second set and 1–4 in the final set to beat Yulia Putintseva in a match that lasted over three hours. Another tight three-set victory ensued in the third round against Annika Beck, before Svitolina defeated Alizé Cornet in a rain-interrupted fourth-round encounter to set up a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal against seventh seed Ana Ivanovic, which she lost in straight sets. Svitolina rose to No. 17 after this tournament, surpassing Alona Bondarenko as the highest-ranked Ukrainian woman in the Open Era, including women from Ukraine who played under the Soviet Union.
Svitolina's grass-court season was significantly less successful, losing in three sets in the second round of Eastbourne to Heather Watson. As the 17th seed at Wimbledon, she came from a set down to beat Misaki Doi, who had beaten her at the same stage the previous year, before again losing in the second round to Australian Casey Dellacqua. Despite losing in the first round of İstanbul to Magdaléna Rybáriková, Svitolina successfully defended her doubles title from the previous year, this time partnering Daria Gavrilova.
She began her American hard-court season with a run to the semifinals in Stanford, losing in straight sets to eventual champion Angelique Kerber. At the Rogers Cup, Svitolina lost in the first round to Victoria Azarenka. She bettered her performance from the previous year in Cincinnati, defeating Alison Riske, Eugenie Bouchard and Caroline Garcia to reach the quarterfinals, before defeating Lucie Šafářová for the second time this year to progress to her second Premier-5 semifinal, where she lost to Serena Williams. Svitolina concluded her warm up for the US Open in New Haven, where she retired from her first-round match against Madison Keys. She progressed to the third round of the US Open, defeating Elizaveta Kulichkova and Kaia Kanepi, before losing to 13th seed Ekaterina Makarova for the third time this year.
The Asian hard court swing began in Tokyo for Svitolina, where she lost in the second round to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwańska. Svitolina failed to repeat her success from the previous year in Wuhan, losing in the third round to Karolína Plíšková. Similarly disappointing results ensued for Svitolina, losing in the second round of Beijing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and the first round of Tianjin to Elena Vesnina.
Despite this disappointing end to her season, Svitolina's consistency throughout the year earned her a spot as the eighth seed at the inaugural WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai. She was drawn into Group B with second seed Carla Suárez Navarro and Andrea Petkovic. Svitolina topped the group by winning both her matches, advancing to the semifinals where she lost to Karolína Plíšková. Her last match of the season was against Pauline Parmentier in the first round of the 125K event in Limoges, which she lost on a final-set tiebreak.
2016: Steady ranking, Olympic quarterfinals
Svitolina began her season at the Hopman Cup, representing Ukraine with Alexandr Dolgopolov. She was undefeated in her singles matches in the round robin stage, defeating Victoria Duval, Karolína Plíšková, and Jarmila Wolfe. Svitolina and Dolgopolov were the winners of their group, and advanced to the final, where the Australian pairing of Nick Kyrgios and Daria Gavrilova defeated them 2–0, with Svitolina losing her singles match in straight sets. At the Sydney International, Svitolina lost in the first round to Angelique Kerber. In Melbourne, she defeated Victoria Duval in straight sets, before losing to Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka in the second round.
In her first tournament with Justine Henin acting as a coaching consultant, Svitolina advanced to the semifinals in Dubai, defeating qualifier Jana Čepelová, earning her first top-10 win of the year over second seed Garbiñe Muguruza, and battling past CoCo Vandeweghe in three sets, before losing to eventual champion Sara Errani. Svitolina subsequently lost in the first round in Doha to Denisa Allertová.
Her next tournament was the Malaysian Open, where she defeated Miyu Kato, Risa Ozaki, Kristína Kučová, and Zhu Lin en route to the final where she beat a resurgent Eugenie Bouchard in a rain-interrupted marathon to win her fourth WTA title. This victory saw her maintain her perfect record in WTA finals, as well as improving her ranking to a career high of 14.
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, 17th-seed Svitolina defeated Annika Beck, before losing in straight sets to ninth-seed Roberta Vinci. Then, in Miami, after defeating Australian Open quarterfinalist Zhang Shuai, Svitolina scored one of the biggest victories of her career, coming from a break down in the third set to defeat former WTA number one, Caroline Wozniacki, in three sets in the third round. Svitolina subsequently lost in the fourth round to Ekaterina Makarova, who beat her at the same tournament the prior year.
Svitolina began her clay-court season with a disappointing first-round loss to Alexandra Panova in Bogotá, followed by a second round loss to Daria Gavrilova in Madrid, and a first-round loss to qualifier Monica Puig in Rome. Entering the French Open in poor form, Svitolina beat Romanian qualifier Sorana Cîrstea and wildcard Taylor Townsend before beating nemesis and former world No. 1, Ana Ivanovic, in straight sets. She then lost in the fourth round to world No. 1, defending champion, and eventual finalist Serena Williams.
At the Rio Olympics, Svitolina scored her first win over defending champion and then world No. 1 Serena Williams in the third round to reach the quarterfinals, defeating the out-of-sorts American in straight sets. Svitolina failed to follow up her landmark victory in the next round, however, losing to eventual bronze medalist Petra Kvitová.
American hard-court season began with a run to the third round of Montréal, losing to Angelique Kerber. After a disappointing early loss to Daria Gavrilova in Cincinnati, she rebounded at New Haven, reaching the final before losing to Agnieszka Radwańska. At the US Open, Svitolina reached the third round for the second consecutive year with wins over Mandy Minella and Lauren Davis, however she lost to Petra Kvitová once again.
The Asian swing proved to be fruitful for Svitolina, reaching the semifinals of both Tokyo, where she was defeated by Naomi Osaka, and Beijing, her first semifinal at Premier-Mandatory level, losing to eventual champion Agnieszka Radwańska. As a result, her ranking was propelled back up to 15, one place shy of her career high, and guaranteed her a place in Zhuhai for the second year running. Her good form continued at the last Premier event of the season in Moscow, where she reached the semifinals, her third in four tournaments, before bowing out to eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Svitolina concluded her season as the fourth seed in Zhuhai. She topped her group by defeating Kiki Bertens and Elena Vesnina, and then came from a set down to defeat top seed Johanna Konta in the semifinals to advance to her third final of the year, where she lost to Kvitová. Svitolina finished the season ranked 14th, with an impressive 13–5 win-loss record following the US Open.
2017: Three Premier 5 titles and top 3
Svitolina began her 2017 season with a strong showing in Brisbane, defeating world No. 1, Angelique Kerber, in the quarterfinals, before losing to eventual champion Karolína Plíšková in the following round. The victory over Kerber signified her third win over a number-one-ranked player in five months. Svitolina was seeded 11th at the Australian Open, her highest seeding to date. She equalled her best showing in Melbourne, reaching the third round with victories over Galina Voskoboeva and Julia Boserup, before losing to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Svitolina won her fifth career title at the Taiwan Open, fending off four match points in her quarterfinal encounter with Ons Jabeur, before defeating Peng Shuai in the final. Svitolina next competed in Ukraine's Fed Cup tie against Australia, where she won both of her singles rubbers to help Ukraine set up a play-off against Germany. Svitolina continued her strong start to the season in Dubai, where she defeated Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in the final to capture her first title at Premier-5 level. This win propelled her into the WTA top 10 for the first time in her career, making her the first Ukrainian ever to do so. Svitolina failed to carry her momentum into the American hard-court swing, losing in the fourth round of Indian Wells to Garbiñe Muguruza, and the second round of Miami to Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
She began the clay-court season by capturing her third title of the year in İstanbul. Rebounding from a disappointing loss to Zheng Saisai in the first round of Madrid, Svitolina then proceeded to reach her second Premier-5-level final of the year, and fourth overall, in Rome. After defeating two top-5 players en route in Karolína Plíšková and Garbiñe Muguruza, she faced off against Simona Halep, whom she defeated in three sets to claim the title. The win propelled her to a career high of No. 6 in the singles rankings, as well as to the top spot in the Race to Singapore. She then started her campaign at the French Open as one of the favourites to win the tournament. Svitolina progressed through her first three matches with relative ease, defeating Yaroslava Shvedova, Tsvetana Pironkova and Magda Linette respectively. Svitolina then overcame qualifier Petra Martić in a tight three set encounter to advance to her second Major quarterfinal. She faced Simona Halep in a rematch of the Italian Open final. Svitolina led by a set and 5–1 and held a match point against the 2014 finalist, but lost in three sets (the third set at love).
At Wimbledon, she surpassed her previous performances by reaching the fourth round, defeating Birmingham finalist and potential dark horse Ashleigh Barty in the first round. She then eased past Francesca Schiavone and Carina Witthöft, before bowing out to 13th seed and French Open champion Jeļena Ostapenko in straight sets.
Her fifth title of the year, and third successive at Premier-5 level, came in Toronto, where she defeated four top-10 players en route in Venus Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza, Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki. Svitolina's first loss of the season at Premier-5 level came the following week in the third round of Cincinnati, losing to Julia Görges.
She entered the US Open knowing that a run to the semifinals would see her claim the world-number-one ranking for the first time. She overcame Kateřina Siniaková in a rain-interrupted three-set encounter, before easing past Evgeniya Rodina and Shelby Rogers to reach the round of 16 at the US Open for the first time. She was then defeated by eventual runner-up Madison Keys in three sets.
Despite missing a large part of the Asian swing, Svitolina still secured her place at the year-end WTA Finals in Singapore, making her the first Ukrainian ever to do so. As the third seed in Beijing, she progressed to her eighth quarterfinal of the year with relative ease, defeating wildcard Zhu Lin, recent Wuhan finalist Ashleigh Barty and Elena Vesnina. There, she was defeated by Caroline Garcia on a final-set tiebreak.
Svitolina was drawn into the Red Group at the WTA Finals, alongside Halep, Wozniacki and Caroline Garcia. Despite earning her fifth career win over a number-one-ranked player by defeating Halep, Svitolina lost her other two matches, including a two-set drubbing by eventual champion Wozniacki, which ultimately placed her third in the group. She finished the year ranked at No. 6.
2018: WTA Finals champion
Svitolina began her 2018 season by capturing the Brisbane International title, defeating qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final. She then competed at the Australian Open as the fourth seed. She faced qualifier Ivana Jorović and won in straight sets. Against Kateřina Siniaková, Svitolina prevailed in three sets. She then had two straight-sets wins over qualifier and compatriot Marta Kostyuk and Denisa Allertová to advance to her first Australian Open quarterfinal where she was upset by Belgian Elise Mertens in straight sets.
Svitolina's 11th career title came after a successful defence of her crown in Dubai, where she brushed aside Daria Kasatkina in the final. After losing to Carla Suárez Navarro in the third round of Indian Wells, she produced her best ever result in Miami, reaching the quarterfinals before falling to eventual runner-up Jeļena Ostapenko in straight sets.
Rebounding from a second-round loss in Madrid to Suárez Navarro, Svitolina claimed her second straight Italian Open crown, defeating top seed Simona Halep in two sets, in a rematch of the previous year's final. At the French Open, Svitolina posted wins against Ajla Tomljanović and Viktória Kužmová, before being upset in the third round by Mihaela Buzărnescu.
She began her grass-court season with a run to the quarterfinals of Birmingham, losing again to Buzărnescu. Svitolina was then upset in the first round of Wimbledon by recent Mallorca champion Tatjana Maria.
She enjoyed moderate success during the US Open Series, reaching the semifinals in Montréal, where she was the defending champion, and the quarterfinals of Cincinnati, losing there to eventual champion Kiki Bertens. She reached the round of 16 at the US Open for the second straight year, losing to Anastasija Sevastova in three sets.
Svitolina's struggles with form continued into the Asian swing, with back-to-back opening round losses to eventual champion Aryna Sabalenka in Wuhan, and Aleksandra Krunić in Beijing, despite opening up a 6–0, 3–0 lead in the latter match. A quarterfinal defeat in Hong Kong to in-form Wang Qiang, coupled with Svitolina's decision not to play in the final week of the year at either Moscow or Luxembourg City, meant that qualification for the WTA Finals in Singapore would rest on the performances of Karolína Plíšková and Kiki Bertens in Moscow. Plíšková's defeat in the second round ensured that Svitolina would qualify for Singapore for the second successive year.
As the sixth seed, she was drawn into the White Group, alongside defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, and Czechs Plíšková and Petra Kvitová. She won all three of her round-robin matches, first snapping a seven-match losing streak against Kvitová, defeating her in straight sets. She then defeated both Plíšková and Wozniacki in three sets to secure her place in the semifinals alongside Plíšková. She defeated Kiki Bertens in three sets in the semifinals. In the final, she came from a set down to beat Sloane Stephens 3–6, 6–2, 6–2, winning the biggest title of her career. Svitolina ended the year as the world No. 4.
2019: First Grand Slam Semifinal
Seeded sixth at the Australian Open, she defeated qualifier Viktorija Golubic, Viktória Kužmová, Zhang Shuai, and 17th seed Madison Keys to make her second consecutive quarterfinal at the Australian Open. However, she was afflicted by a neck and shoulder injury and was ultimately defeated by fourth seed and eventual champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets. Svitolina then reached back-to-back semifinals in Doha, losing from a 4-1 lead in the final set against Simona Halep, and Dubai, where she was the two-time defending champion, losing in a final set tiebreak to eventual champion Belinda Bencic.
She reached her third consecutive semifinal of the year in Indian Wells. In her first Premier Mandatory semifinal since 2016, Svitolina lost in three sets against 18-year old wildcard and eventual champion Bianca Andreescu. The following week at the Miami Open, she suffered a surprise defeat in her opening match against Wang Yafan. Svitolina later revealed that she had been struggling with knee pain for several weeks, and announced she would be taking a short break to recover.
Svitolina's clay court season began with back-to-back opening round losses to Pauline Parmentier in Madrid and to Victoria Azarenka in Rome, where she was the two-time defending champion, and had held a match point leading 5–2 in the final set. At the French Open, Svitolina was defeated in the third round by the 2016 champion, Garbiñe Muguruza.
After losing in her opening round at both Birmingham and Eastbourne, Svitolina proceeded to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon with victories over Daria Gavrilova, Margarita Gasparyan, Maria Sakkari, Petra Martić and Karolína Muchová, becoming the first Ukrainian ever to do so. There, she faced eventual champion Simona Halep and was defeated 6-1 6-3.
Playing style, equipment, and coaches
Svitolina was coached by Sébastien Mathieu 2013 and 2014. She then worked with Iain Hughes for two and a half years, and chose to split from him in November 2016. In February 2016, she appointed former world No. 1 Justine Henin as a member of her coaching team. In late 2016, Svitolina announced that Gabriel Urpí would be her new coach, with Thierry Ascione replacing Henin as her new coaching consultant. Ascione coached Svitolina up until the 2018 US Open, and she has since begun working with Nick Saviano, whilst still being accompanied on a weekly basis by hitting partner Andrew Bettles.
Svitolina has a complete baseline game and is mostly a defensive player. She can turn defense into offense when given the chance. Her groundstrokes are very consistent and are hit with moderate-to-big power. Her backhand is her stronger side, especially down the line, and on the run, but both of her groundstrokes penetrate the court well. She demonstrates good movement around the court and is capable of hitting very accurate shots on the run. She improved her serve in the 2016 and 2017 seasons, becoming one of the leaders of service points won in 2018. She has been known to struggle with volleying at the net. However, she has good reactions and can accelerate well across the court to deal with short balls. Her favourite surfaces are grass and clay.
WTA Championships finals
|Win||2018||WTA Finals, Singapore||Hard (i)||Sloane Stephens||3–6, 6–2, 6–2|
Grand Slam singles performance timeline
|Australian Open||A||A||1R||3R||3R||2R||3R||QF||QF||0 / 7||15–7|
|French Open||Q1||Q2||2R||2R||QF||4R||QF||3R||3R||0 / 7||16–7|
|Wimbledon||A||Q1||1R||1R||2R||2R||4R||1R||SF||0 / 7||10–7|
|US Open||A||1R||2R||1R||3R||3R||4R||4R||0 / 7||11–7|
|Win–Loss||0–0||0–1||2–4||3–4||9–4||7–4||12–4||9–4||11–3||0 / 28||52–28|