SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Elina Svitolina cut a disconsolate figure a year ago as her WTA Finals debut petered out with a group stage exit after some poor performances in the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
Fast forward 12 months and the Ukrainian sits on the brink of a semi-final berth following two big wins despite arriving in Southeast Asia lacking self-belief after struggling in the second half of a season that had started so well.
“It’s a tricky situation, because last year I was going into this tournament with confidence,” Svitolina told reporters on Tuesday after edging past Karolina Pliskova 6-3 2-6 6-3 in her second White Group tie.
“This time it was different, because the second part of my season wasn’t that good as last year. So it’s two completely different situations. That’s why it’s... it’s just a challenge.”
Svitolina, who won five titles in 2017, opened her campaign in Singapore this year with a straight sets win over Petra Kvitova, meaning she needs to claim just one set in her final group match against Caroline Wozniacki to advance.
“It was a really challenging opening match and this one was as well,” Svitolina added of her contests against the big-hitting Czech duo.
“So I’m very happy that I could handle those two and I still have a very, very tough next match that I’m looking forward to. I am just going to recover and be ready for it.”
Svitolina also praised her British coach Andrew Bettles, who joined her team as a practice partner but has shone in her corner since being elevated to a primary role last year.
“Well, he always was a traveling coach. You know, when I took him on at the beginning, the goal was that he would become a traveling coach and he learned really, really quickly,” she said.
“We have a really good relationship. It’s very rare you can find someone who understands you and with who you can spend so much time on and off the court, because you know we are on the road so many weeks a year, and it can be very tough.
“But we are finding this balance and for me it’s very important, to have someone like this, and I think I’m very lucky to have him in my team.”
Reporting by John O'Brien