Svitolina cherishes Dubai comeback, eyes third title

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Elina Svitolina hits a return during their women’s singles match in Melbourne. File/ AFP

Gulf Today, Staff Reporter

Two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina is excited to be back in Dubai and ready to give all to claim third title. The world No.15 from Ukraine is one of just three women to claim back-to-back titles in Dubai, having triumphed in 2017 and 2018.

Last year, Svitolina lost to Russian world No.41 Svetlana Kuznetsova in the second round of the tournament.

The fifth seed Maria Sakkari and Svitolina, who both start against qualifiers, could face each other in the second round. Svitolina’s career had taken a fairytale run after her success in 2017.

Her victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the final not only earned her the biggest title of her career but lifted her into the world’s top 10 for the first time.

“I always love it here and have some amazing memories. Winning twice here is something special,” said Svitolina.

“This time around I am enjoying my game right now and this place seems to suit my game. With that, the facilities, the atmosphere, it is all coming together. “I always prepare hard for this one as it is important to me as I look to win a third,” she added.

The Ukrainian is also delighted with the news that this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will be at full capacity following the Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management giving the green signal to sports events with full capacity for spectators from Tuesday.

“Having the crowds back is really exciting,” Svitolina. “We are getting used to the restrictions that have been in place for the past two years but now I can get out and about a bit more and enjoy a bit of the city and the sights,” she added. Meanwhile, two-time Dubai champion Simona Halep will start her campaign against Alison Riske.

“I have been coming here since the beginning of my career and that first win is still special. To take the title a second time was amazing and I am looking forward to meeting my fans once again.

“Dubai is a great place to get going so early in the season and I get my energy from the crowd, and I have good confidence around this place. I am enjoying my tennis and I enjoy this place, both inside and outside of the court,” she said. Halep has recently ended her partnership with coaches Daniel Dobre and Adrian Marcu and is in no hurry to hire a new coach.

She is keen to experience the tour on her own for a while. Among the top contenders bidding for their first Dubai title will be 2021 Wimbledon and US Open semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka, who after winning in Doha in 2020 and Abu Dhabi in 2021 will be hoping to claim a Middle East treble. Another will be Barbora Krejcikova, who won the WTA Most Improved Player of The Year award after her run to the 2021 Dubai final inspired her to win her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open and further titles in Strasbourg and Prague, before she continued her success in 2022 with a recent appearance in the Sydney final.

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