Tennis: Elina Svitolina admits she almost quit during injury-plagued ASB Classic semi-final win

  • 07/01/2024

Elina Svitolina has admitted she considered throwing in the towel during her arduous ASB Classic semi-final victory over Wang Xiyu on Saturday.

Svitolina eventually prevailed 2-6 6-4 6-3 over her Chinese opponent to set up a final against American Coco Gauff but was forced to take a medical timeout to attend to an ongoing hip issue, which has been exacerbated during a demanding run to the showpiece in Auckland.

"It was really tough for me," Svitolina said after the match. 

"I was trying to push myself. I think one of the factors was that there were so many people and everyone was cheering.  

"It was really tough for me to not try and it pushed me through to fight, stay in the match and try to hit one extra ball over the net."

The world No. 25 said the encouragement of the crowd and her determination to deliver for her home nation prevented her retiring from the match, as she returned to win the final two sets.

"The crowd really helped me try to come back into the match and I tried to be there for the fans. I know a lot of people in Ukraine were cheering and supporting me.

"I was really sad that I couldn't perform at my best in the first set. So I decided to try to play the first couple of games, take one point at a time and then see.

"At first I had pain here and there, but I pushed myself and I'm happy that I got rewarded with the win."

The result set up a dream final for tournament organisers against American Coco Gauff on Sunday, although how much juice Svitolina will have left in the tank for that contest is yet to be seen.

"It is how it is. Physically, I had some tough matches, which I'm happy I'm through. But it took a lot out of my body. Now I have to recover and try to get ready.

"Of course, I'm excited for the match. She's an exciting player. It's going to be an exciting match but for me now the priority is my health. I have to work a lot, my physio has a lot to do with my body.

"We'll see how it goes, I don't want to predict, I don't want to think about [Sunday]."

Coco Gauff during her semi-final win.
Coco Gauff during her semi-final win. Photo credit: Getty Images

Gauff - who cruised past compatriot Emma Navarro in her semi-final earlier on Saturday - has been relatively untested in her run to the final and will be highly favoured to secure ASB back-to-back ASB Classic crowns on Sunday.

The US Open champion hasn't come close to losing a set in her four matches and says she's excited by the opportunity to defend a WTA title for the first time in her career.

Gauff admitted that challenge was a huge part of why she chose to come back to Auckland as her primary preparation for the upcoming Australian Open.

"Playing in this tournament with my ranking, there are probably other tournaments to play," she said.  

"But for me, it was important to test myself with how I'd be able to defend a final.

"I've won titles in the past and with how the schedule worked out and Covid happened, I couldn't go back to a tournament and defend.  

"This is the first opportunity I've had to be able to feel what it's like to come back as a defending champion and try to back that up.That's a reason why I wanted to play this tournament too."