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December 30, 2018

Elina Svitolina

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Q. Welcome back to Brisbane. Can you talk through a little bit of your off season in terms of how much time you took without picking up a racquet, and when did things get picked up?
ELINA SVITOLINA: So I had three weeks off, and I was actually maybe for two weeks very busy with all the media, all the commitments I had to do in Ukraine. Of course, it's very enjoyable, but in the same time it was very exhausting because I wanted to do everything, and in the end I was waking up at like 6:00 and finishing at 10. So it took a lot of energy out of me. But I really enjoyed some of the things that I had to do, meet the fans, meet the press and share this special moment with them.

And after that, you know, I went to Dubai. So this was to just de-stress and one of my highlights, I would say, in the off season.

Q. Is there a difference for you when you come back to a tournament as defending champion? Do you feel like there's a different sort of weight or expectation or do you feel different coming in as defending champ?
ELINA SVITOLINA: You get a few benefits, I would say, but nothing literally. Everyone is nice to you. (Laughs). But, you know, it gives you probably that little confidence and little pressure in the same time, but I would say that it's more enjoyable to come as a defending champion than having the pressure, but still, it's still good. And this tournament is very nice organized, and the fans are great, you know, for the first tournament of the year it's amazing to start here, and I really, really enjoy it. I'm coming here for so many years now, and being a champion here is, for sure, a great memory and good start of the season.

Q. What did that win last year, how did that help you this season? How do you think it helped you move forward?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Definitely it brought me lots of confidence, even going into the Australian Open because it's the first Grand Slam of the year, so you don't really know what to expect. And I played really good tennis, and yeah, I really enjoyed my trip to Australia last year, and you know, each time that I come here I have a good chance to play well, and for me that's what matters the most, because, you know, after the season is very long, but it's important to start and to see where you are and what you have improved and what you still have to work on.

Q. And hoping to use again strong, what do you plan into the Australian Open and the rest of the season?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, for sure. I really enjoy coming here. It's good weather, not too hot because we have a roof. And, you know, you are not boiling outside on the court. So it's definitely a big advantage to start here, and the fans are great. You know, all the time that I play on the court, doesn't matter, in the daytime or nighttime, they make electric atmosphere, and that's very important.

Q. What are your goals for the season? What do you really want to achieve in the coming year?
ELINA SVITOLINA: My goals are always to win a Grand Slam, to become No. 1. They are lifetime goals, and I try to stay really focused each tournament to win as many titles as I can. This is my ultimate goal each year, but I think the most important for me is to be healthy and to give myself a good chance to play well, because I know that when I'm healthy, when I'm ready mentally to compete, then I have, you know, a good chance to show my best tennis.

Q. Do you feel like you're as close to those goals, or after Singapore, do you feel like that is the natural next step for you to win a Slam or how do you sort of have a relationship with that lifelong goal and where you're at right now?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Of course. It was amazing to win in Singapore, being undefended and played great tennis there, so, of course, it's a big push for me and good step to have the opportunity to win. But, still, you know, there's lots of work ahead of me, and in the Grand Slams, of course, I have to be ready to compete for two weeks and be healthy and, you know, there's lots of challenges, lots of small challenges that you have to be ready for, and I think I'm moving in the right direction, so I don't really want to put any pressure on myself that I have to do it, because, you know, it's next step.

I know that there will be -- there will be chances where I will have to take -- to be ready to take them, and that's, yeah, that's what matters for me.

Q. Elina, were you surprised at all by I guess the reaction or the aftereffects of winning Singapore? I mean going back and meeting all the dignitaries and doing all the sponsorship stuff, media stuff. It seemed like a really big deal for those two weeks. I mean what was that like and were you surprised by it?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, I was surprised because when I went back to Ukraine, you know, we had to arrange the press conference and there were more than 50, I think, 50 media people that applied for the press conference, and it was full, and you know, it was amazing to see so many people that were interested. And they were impressed by the tennis that I showed, my mental strength that I showed in Singapore, and there's lots of kids as well. I did the kids' clinics, and they were really -- I could see, they said so many nice words to me, and I was really impressed by their open mind. And I shared -- or I tried to share with them all the experience that I had, and it was really enjoyable to see so many happy faces, not only kids but grownups as well. They wanted to ask so many questions, and I hope I answered every one.

Q. And did you feel as though -- from the outside it almost looked like a dry run of what happened if you won a Slam and what the aftereffects would be like. Did it feel like that at all that entire four weeks, even, including Singapore?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah. I think it was something maybe similar, but it's tough to say now, because, you know, Grand Slam is, I think standing a little bit -- standing a little bit on the side, and, of course, Singapore is very, very important tournament, and to win this one you get lots of attention as well, and it's very prestigious. So, of course, you know, it's going to be maybe a little bit different, but I don't want to look into those things. But, yeah, we'll see.

Q. You mentioned how much you like playing here and at the Australian Open and how much you want to Grand Slam win. For the coming Australian Open, how big of a goal is it for you to I guess really push there and try to make that dream a reality here in Australia?
ELINA SVITOLINA: For each Grand Slam I have the same goal. I have maybe a little bit different preparation for each Grand Slam. So, of course, I enjoy playing in Australia, in the Australian Open. So each year it's a big challenge, and for me I will just try to prepare well, be injury free, mentally fresh, to compete. Doesn't matter how tough the matches are. There's also the heat factor. So you have to be 100 percent ready, and then I try to don't have any regrets afterwards because I did everything what was in my power. And then sometimes it's just not in the cards to be there and to win some matches. So I just try to be ready for the unexpected things.

Q. Do you feel this is your best position yet or best chance yet going into the coming summer?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Of course. I won the Singapore and I played well, but I don't want to think that way. I'll just try to take this confidence into the matches and show my best tennis.

Q. How was that bridge climb? It looked pretty fun.
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, actually, I didn't know what to expect because I didn't really know anything about it, so when I showed up there, they started talking and said now I'm going to have highness and stuff. I was like, is it that scary. So I didn't really expect to do this kind of thing, but it was really impressive to see all of Brisbane, and yeah, it's a very beautiful city.

Q. Can you just talk through the decision to promote Andy to be head coach? What was your mindset going into the off season? What were the things that kind of got you to that decision in the end?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I think it was the decision that I already made earlier. Of course, we were trying to get someone on board that were more experienced, but in the end it didn't really work because I was not in the right mindset to, yeah, to take any added information and to adjust, because after New York I was a little bit struggling here and there, but, you know, I just was trying to work really hard on the court, on the practice court, and that really helped me. And Andy knew exactly what I had to do, and of course, we had some low moments, but I think we were not far and not far from playing good tennis. And in the end it just was a little step here and there where we made in the right direction, and that's what mattered the most for me. And I think I didn't even have a second thought about not making that decision to promote him. And, yeah, we'll see how it goes, but he does a great job, and I think we understand each other pretty good.

Q. Speaking of Andy, like what's his greatest strength as a coach for you?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I think it's tough for me to say, but because he -- because I think we just as a personality and view on some of the things we share the same view, and sometimes with some person you match and with some not. So it's just, yeah, I mean he's very -- he listens, and he understands me pretty good. So I think that's, yeah, it's tough to pick one thing.

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