Elina Svitolina proud to join greats Justine Henin and Venus Williams as only back-to-back winners in Dubai

Elina Svitolina tries to explain her incredible record in finals and says she's proud to join Venus Williams and Justine Henin as repeat champions in Dubai.

Reem Abulleil 2018/02/24

When Elina Svitolina tries to explain how she has managed to win 11 of 13 WTA finals she’s ever contested, she jokes that she wishes it was 13 out of 13.

The Ukrainian world No. 4 described her week in Dubai, where she defended her title by defeating Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-0 in the final, as “solid” and it was just that.

“I always set really high goals for myself. Of course I was kidding,” she says of the 13/13 remark.

“When I was growing up, for me, I just loved playing tennis. I loved competing. I think this really brought me into the high level.

“My family that was pushing me, not crazy, but in the right way. My brother who also had a big influence on me, motivating me when I was young, which was important. All these things that really came together. Yeah, I’m happy that I’m moving the right direction.”

On how she mentally approaches finals, she said: “All the time I try to take it as a challenge, something new. Each tournament, the ones that I won, brought something really special into my game. This title particularly, handling the pressure, playing the way I had to play on court, yeah. Every final was different. I tried to just be ready 100 per cent, then see how it goes.

“But I’m very pleased it’s going my way most of the time.”

Svitolina joins her former coach Justine Henin, and American legend Venus Williams, as the only three women to defend the Dubai title in the tournament’s 18-year history.

“It feels amazing. When they were announcing our names, they were saying that Justine and Venus are only the ones who defended their titles, I was like, ‘Okay, come on, you have to do this’. It really motivated me, which was good. It didn’t add more pressure,” said Svitolina.

“Yeah, I really enjoyed. It was tough battle in the first set. I was going through tough moments. She was fighting really, really hard. Yeah, was high intensity. But I was pleased the way I handle it.”

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Daria Kasatkina Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Elina Svitolina