This is a difficult one.
What constitutes a successful season for Elina Svitolina?
First and back to back major semi-final appearances at Wimbledon and New York but did get beaten heavily in both tournaments. Semi-finals at Indian Wells and Dubai earlier on in the year which delivered no titles (or finals) and just one top ten win going into Shenzhen against Madison Keys in New York.
15 wins across the 4 majors was Elina’s best return in a calendar year during her career so it is a little bit sad to be negative to an extent but against the best she has struggled.
Eli has made it to the latter stages of major tournaments but then ran out of ideas;
Australian Open (QF) – Naomi Osaka 6-4 6-1 (ranked 4)
Doha (SF) – Simona Halep 6-3 3-6 6-4 (ranked 3)
Dubai (SF) – Belinda Bencic 6-2 3-6 7-6 (ranked 45, now 9)
Indian Wells (SF) – Bianca Andreescu 6-3 2-6 6-4 (ranked 60, now 4)
Wimbledon (SF) – Simona Halep 6-1 6-3 (ranked 7)
US Open (SF) – Serena Williams 6-3 6-1 (ranked 8)
Beijing (QF) – Kiki Bertens 7-6 6-2 (ranked 8)
The struggle is there to see against the best on the tour and also the form players in Bencic and Andreescu who defeated her with a low ranking and are now both top 10.
The manor of defeats against Halep, Serena and Naomi who’d you say are three of the most consistent players was concerning. The two semi-finals in London and New York were carbon copy.
Close opening couple of games, Elina showing intent on return but didn’t get the breakthrough and seemed to back off and just wait. With the mood Simona was in and Serena at Wimbledon and New York respectively she left herself open to be picked off.
This isn’t all doom and gloom as twelve months ago Elina won the WTA Finals.
She won all five matches in Singapore, two of which were from a set down including in the final against Sloane Stephens.
In Singapore last year she played such inspired tennis, she was unbeatable from the baseline and stood inside well. A recurring theme in a lot of her defeats this year has been her positioning on the court dropping back too much.
Big problem is her serve and we saw it get pummelled with all respect against Serena and Simona and the numbers are massively different.
Elina’s stats from 2018 and 2019
2018 – 59 matches
122 Double Faults
62.4% First Serve In
67% First Serve Won
49% Second Serve Won
74.2% Service Games Won
2019 – 56 matches
174 Double Faults
60.3% First Serves In
66.6% First Serves Won
44.3% Second Serves Won
68.9% Service Games Won
50 more double faults than after less matches than last year with more yet to come in Shenzhen. Her first serve in is down dramatically as is her second serve points won.
Also she is down 5.3% of service games won compared to last year.
Elina is the only former champion but the eighth seed in Shenzhen so does she have a point to prove? I think so. I’m interested to see how this serve stands up and will be looking back at some from last year to see where it’s gone wrong for her.