Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina has been on a hot streak over the last two seasons.
Svitolina, 23, posted the highest winning percentage of .791 on the 2017 WTA Tour, while winning five tour championships in Toronto, Rome, Istanbul, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Taipei City, Taiwan.
She has carried the momentum into 2018 with two tour wins already in Brisbane, Australia and Dubai.
On Wednesday, the world’s No. 4-ranked player took time out of her hectic schedule to attend a youth tennis clinic with local high school and middle school players at Bush Tennis Center.
Svitolina made a stop in the Tall City en route from this week’s BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California to next week’s Miami Open in Key Biscayne, Florida.
“I’m almost home,” quipped Svitolina, a native of Odessa, Ukraine.
The 5-foot-9 Svitolina sat down with the Reporter-Telegram Wednesday to discuss her burgeoning career, her pursuit of an elusive Grand Slam title and she offered guidance to young tennis players.
MRT: You’ve been on a roll with seven wins in the last two seasons, what’s going well for you right now on the tennis court?
Svitolina: I’ve been working really hard with my new team (coaching consultant Thierry Ascione and hitting partner Andrew Bettles), which I changed a year and a half ago. I wanted to have a new view on my game. I just wanted to have a change. I think that’s what brought me success and this push. They’ve changed little things in my game, which has added extra confidence. Yes, I’m really happy with the way it’s working out and the way I’m moving forward.
MRT: Last year you had a 15-match winning streak, were you superstitious at all during the winning streak?
Svitolina: Actually no. I didn’t really notice it because all the tournaments you’re playing, it’s very different. You have to focus on each match and you don’t really think about it. Of course, it’s very nice to win lots of matches and to win the tournaments. I try to really take one match at a time.
MRT: What do you think will be the key for you to finally win a Grand Slam?
Svitolina: It’s the process. I have to work really hard to achieve this. It takes time. I’m a top five player now and I’m more consistent. Consistency is what will bring me more confidence to be playing well in Grand Slams. Hopefully, I will take it one step further and try to not rush things so much because in the Grand Slams, there’s lots of pressure and lots of things crossing your mind. Yes, it’s very tricky, but I have to really stay focused.
MRT: What’s been your favorite moment of your career so far?
Svitolina: There has been lots of them -- winning in Toronto and in Dubai last year, and then defending this year at Dubai this year as well. Entering the top 10 for the first time, it was a big deal. It was the first time (an Ukrainian woman made the top 10). Achieving No. 3 in the world also, it was the best in Ukrainian history. It’s something nice each time. I have lots of good memories from the (2016 Summer) Olympics as well, beating Serena (Williams). I have lots of them. We are training every day for these kind of moments. It’s amazing.
MRT: You’ve said your serve is your favorite shot on the WTA website. What’s your advice to a young player that wants to have a good serve?
Svitolina: The serve is the one shot that you can control the most. I definitely practice it a lot. I’m getting better each day. It’s always a process because you can never say ‘My serve is good enough’ because each day it can be different and you have to adjust your serve a little bit, it also depends on the conditions. It’s very tricky, but at the same time, I like that I have full control over it and I think practicing every day and trying to make it better and better, that’s what helps me.
MRT: What’s your advice to these kids here who have aspirations of going far in tennis?
Svitolina: The most important is to be patient because tennis is that kind of sport where you have to work really hard. The results are not guaranteed so that’s why you always have to work really hard and wait for your moment. It’s going to come. There’s lots of tournaments almost every week so you’re going to have this chance and that’s when you have to be ready. Give 100 percent each day.