SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Elina Svitolina set out to “silence the haters” in Singapore this week and after rallying to claim the WTA Finals title with a 3-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Sloane Stephens on Sunday, the Ukrainian hopes her critics will remain muted.
Svitolina’s form nosedived in the second half of the year and after sneaking into the eight-woman field courtesy of three early-season titles, the world number seven sensed her presence had been regarded as undeserved in some quarters.
“Well, I have nothing to prove anymore to anyone,” Svitolina said after recording the best win of her career.
“Yeah, that’s definitely good statement for myself and good boost of, can’t say confidence, because I always try to have the confidence in myself. And to have it is my personality,” the 24-year-old added.
“I think for me the third set really showed that I was mentally tough. That’s what made the difference.”
Svitolina exuded confidence in her ability to close the deal thanks to a record of 12 wins in 14 finals ahead of the showdown with Stephens, a statistic she wished she had not highlighted to the media after the American won the first set.
“Actually, I thought about it when I lost the first set and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, I’m never going to say this again’,” she added with a grin.
“I know that I won lots of finals but for me every final is a big challenge. I always try to be there for that challenge and although not everything worked in the first set, I fought back and that’s what brought me to the win today.
“I’m very proud of this.”
Looking back to her disappointing form prior to Singapore, Svitolina admitted she always believed she could rediscover her best tennis.
“I have been working really, really hard. Even though my results were not good since Wimbledon, I had four or five weeks where I was on court and in the gym working the day after a loss,” she added.
“I have been putting lots of work in this past five months. That’s why my poor results were a little bit disappointing and I was trying to stay positive, because I was giving everything on the practice court and results were not what I expected.
“But I was staying very positive and I think that’s what made the difference this week. I was able to play well and to compete.
“And maybe not playing so well in Asia actually made me a little bit fresher, because other girls had played semi-finals, quarter-finals etc, so maybe this was a little bit of a factor as well.”
Reporting by John O'Brien, editing by Ed Osmond