Elina Svitolina believes the dramatic weight loss she has experienced this season is paying off, and responded to concerns over her body’s sudden transformation.
The Ukrainian world No. 7, who reached the semi-finals in Montreal last week and is seeded No. 5 in Cincinnati with a bye in the first round, acknowledges that she has lost a significant amount of weight during the spring and feels the decision to do so has helped her tennis.
Several pundits have noted the recent change and are worried it could negatively affect her game or health.
“We all can see the difference and everyone has their opinion on anything. We’re trying different things with my team,” Svitolina told reporters in Cincinnati on Monday.
“I’m trying to improve, trying to play better in the Grand Slams, that’s the main goal for me. We try to do something different, something that can help. If you don’t try, you cannot see the difference.
“I know there has been a huge difference between the beginning of the year and now. We try to learn from each step we do and I think it’s up to me and my team to see and decide what’s next.”
Svitolina is still in search of a first Grand Slam title, having fallen in the last-eight stage three times so far at the majors.
The 23-year-old, who plays Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Cincinnati second round, is 32-10 win-loss this season and has bagged three titles in 2018, triumphing in Brisbane, and defending her Dubai and Rome titles.
“I think I’m on the right path now already. I’ve been playing really well, I beat good players, I’m feeling much, much better now, on the court, off the court. You cannot guarantee the results even if you’re training for two months really hard, you cannot guarantee that you’re going to win all the next tournaments,” added Svitolina.
“The only thing you can have is a better chance to play better and to be prepared and be more fresh. For me, I think I gave myself a good chance to play well and we can see that I’m better.”
She added: “Everyone has a different opinion on this and for me, it was just that I wanted to try something different and that’s the only thing for me. Some people think it’s better to have maybe more muscle, some people think you’ll hit stronger, we’re trying and learning.”
Svitolina’s most recent Grand Slam appearance saw her lose in the first round at Wimbledon to German world No. 57 Tatjana Maria. Also this season, she fell in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January against Elise Mertens, and was stunned by Mihaela Buzarnescu in the third round at Roland Garros.
On the WTA tour though, Svitolina has kept up her strong results from last year (she won five titles in 2017), and is tied for ninth on the list of match win leaders this season entering Cincinnati.
She insists she didn’t feel pressure at the start of 2018, despite being in the position of having to defend many points from the previous year.
“I was not nervous about it, I don’t know why. My coaches were more nervous than me because every time I defended a title, they were really surprised,” admits Svitolina.
“I don’t really think about the past so much. Because tennis is the kind of sport that if you go back, going back in the situation that you didn’t do well or you did well, you lose this momentum because every week we’re in a new place, new tournament, new challenge, and that’s why you lose the momentum sometimes.
“So that’s why I learned a lot that you have to stay in the present. That’s the most important thing because you can win big tournaments then next week you’re playing in one day and you have to be ready to play well, otherwise you get knocked out.”
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