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September 3, 2019

Elina Svitolina

New York, NY, USA


6-4, 6-4

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. First US Open semifinal. When you are getting into your opponent's service games like you have been, really all season but really here and your last two matches, do you sense the stress from them on the other side of the net? What does that open up for you and your game?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, I think in general in tennis that's the goal (smiling). You try to hold and try to make pressure on their service games.

So I have been doing it good so far. I have been serving good. Yeah, try to keep it up for next match.

Q. You had a pretty big reaction, match point in the last game. How much more comfortable do you feel now playing these stages, these kinds of opponents at big tournaments?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, for sure, not every day you're playing quarterfinal of the Grand Slam. And to win that, it's something special. Yeah, just very happy the way I handled the pressure.

It more I think was over relief that I could serve it out, because I had the match point on 5-3. I was very close but in the same -- you know, I was very far because to serve it out is definitely very tough under the pressure.

Q. You spoke earlier in the tournament that your success on the tour hasn't necessarily come overnight. I wonder if you could just reflect on that for a minute, your progression over your years.
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, I think all my career I have been going step by step. I was going very slowly. Not slowly as slow, you know. Still, I was quite consistent, I would say, but I had some tough matches round of 16, quarterfinals before I started to win them.

I think it's been tough and painful losses sometimes, but I think they gave me this push, this confidence and maybe helped me in some matches. Like, for example in Singapore, it was very consistent and throughout the year, past years, I have been consistent top-10 player.

Q. You made your first semifinal of a Grand Slam in Wimbledon two months ago, and I'm curious if that sort of breakthrough made it easier this time? Less pressure? Just feels more familiar, easier the second time around?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, I don't think that I was expecting going into this tournament that I'm going to make semis. I'm just taking one match at a time, not rushing so much of the results or what should have or could have happened.

It's a Grand Slam. There is lots of pressure, lots of expectations from people, from media probably. But you also put lots of pressure on yourself.

You have to just go out there, do your job and don't think too much what's going on around you, and who handle it the best wins.

Q. It's been quite a while since you have played Serena. If you do play her next, what will be your approach to that match? How would you describe the challenge?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Definitely it's a big challenge to play against her. I mean, doesn't really matter who I'm going to play in semifinal. Is a challenge.

Person who reach the semifinal is playing well. It's something that you have to bring your best game to beat them. Doesn't matter who is going to be in the semifinal.

But obviously Serena is amazing champion. Probably it's going to be really tough against her.

Q. What do you remember most from your past matches with her?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, she has a big serve. That's obvious to everyone. And that's what I have to expect. I have to react quickly and try to take my chances when I have.

Q. How do you feel your style, chasing a lot of balls down, matches up against someone like Serena?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, I think I have to run a lot, like all other matches. That's normal. And try to react -- I played some big hitters in this tournament, a lot, and I have to just react quickly with my feet and with my shots, as well. Then when I have the opportunity, go for it.

Q. Going back to an earlier question, why do you think you took so much time to come -- you said it's been a slow journey and one step at a time. Why do you think it's been that way for you?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I don't think it has been that slow, because I'm 24. So, you know, it's okay (smiling). I'm doing fine, I think.

It's just been more consistent, I would say, no? There is some players that they raced and then jumped because of the injury or something else happened. Me, I was more consistent with my game maybe and not winning so many matches on the Grand Slam before. Probably this was a little bit of an issue.

But not anymore. I'm more consistent, I would say. Yeah, I think this is just a little bit of issue on the Grand Slams that I didn't go past the quarterfinal.

Q. To that point, you won so many titles on the WTA Tour, made deep runs in those events. What have you maybe learned now about peaking for the Grand Slams that maybe you didn't know a year or two ago?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I think I'm generally stronger. Mentally I'm handling the pressure points better.

For sure, you know, sometimes it's possible that you're not there on that day, not playing your best. But you try to find your own path, your own way how to handle those kind of moments. And I think since Singapore I handled the pressure very good. When I'm fit and when I'm ready to play, I can play very solid and have very good baseline game.

Q. Winning Singapore, how much did that shift your focus coming into this season or make you feel different about the majors after winning the WTA Finals?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, I think it gave me the belief I can play very consistent against the top players. That's I think the only thing what was, yeah, what was happening.

At this level it's very tough to pick something big, you know. It's about the small details. You have to believe. You have to trust your game. You know, we are in the top of the women's tennis. Everyone can hit the ball over the net. Everyone can play three, four, five, six balls over the net. So you have to find the way. You have to be consistent and find those small opportunities and take them.

Q. Gaƫl has some of the biggest strokes in the world of tennis. What's it like to go out on a tennis court and hit against him? How has that helped your game?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, he's hitting pretty strong and very heavy. So I think definitely it helps me to practice with him.

But, you know, I need to find a balance, as well, between his shots, because if I only practice with him, I'm going to be only in defense most of the time, and that's not so good, either. So I have to find balance when I'm training with him also train with my coach, you know, to do the attacking shots, as well. It helps, but, you know, I have to adjust, as well.

Q. He hit that 360-degree...
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, he always hits that. That's normal for me. That was like a normal day in the office. I was expecting that even (smiling).

Q. Are we going to see you hitting that shot soon? Are you practicing that?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I have been practicing, as well. Actually this morning I did it. Not as good, though (smiling). I turn and then I hit.

Q. What worried you about Konta's game coming into today's match? What did you want to stay away from?
ELINA SVITOLINA: She strikes the ball very good. You know, she plays very good the baseline. She's very strong. You know, her shots are very strong. So you have to expect that.

You have to react really quickly with your feet to get behind the ball, you know, try to make her hit one more shot. I think today I did it very good to get lots of balls back and try to get my opportunity.

Q. I believe your birthday is next week?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, 12 September.

Q. This is more of a lifestyle question. How do you usually like to spend your birthdays? What would your birthday be like this year if you are able to win the final two matches?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, my last birthdays I was spending in China. So this is fun, I guess, alone (smiling).

Not so much, really. Last times I was in the race to Singapore. This time we are going for Shenzhen, so I have to play the tournaments in China and have to prepare. It's normal day. Is not so much of a celebration, you know. I'm getting one year older, which is normal. It's okay.

Q. When you were speaking before about Serena, what do you remember about your Olympics match from 2016?
ELINA SVITOLINA: Yeah, it was unbelievable atmosphere. I played actually a great match. I was very young. Not very young, but I was kind of young at the time. I didn't have big wins at that time.

For me, it gave me lots of confidence, as well, because I was playing really good sometimes. It gave me the confidence to actually let me believe that I can play consistent against the top players.

She gave me opportunities, for sure, in that match, and I actually took them and won the match. It was a very special moment.

Q. What made you successful that day? What do you remember about what you did especially well?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I was moving really good. I was getting lots of balls back. I just took the opportunities, you know. She gave me some chances in the second set. The first set I remember I served it out in 5-4, so this was very good that I handled the pressure. Yeah, I was getting lots of balls back, and I took few chances on the second set.

Q. Seven years ago this beautiful nice story started here at the US Open in the qualification round. A little bit special that five Ukrainian girls start running the qualification, you got the main draw. First round you lost against Ana Ivanovic. Do you have any special memory about this journey, this generation started at that time, and you are the one that got so close, one match from the final? How are you looking back? What is your recollection?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I think actually this was very special US Open for me, because it was the first time, as you said, I qualified. And also, in the last round I think I was, like, 6-1, 5-0 down, and I came back to win the match.

It was something special and definitely unbelievable, because when you're coming to New York, you know, all this hectic atmosphere and city, you know, takes lots of energy out of you. By the years, you start to learn how to handle it. You know, New York has a special place in my career, definitely. Making semifinal here, it's very nice feeling.

Q. In your next round we have discussed Serena but there is also Wang Qiang. Can you talk about her game and what challenges she could present should you play her in the next round?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I think I played her last year here. And also we played in Hong Kong. I think she played some unbelievable tennis in the end of the last year.

She was moving well and striking the ball really good, so she's capable of that. She going to play this way, it's going to be a really tough match tonight.

You know, she's very solid player, and she can produce very good and high level. You have to expect that from her.

Q. You have mentioned confidence a lot today. It seems like as each match has gone on, your confidence and energy has grown, particularly in the last two. How high is your confidence level in your game right now?
ELINA SVITOLINA: I don't think so much about the confidence, actually. No, it's more confidence of what you do, how you prepare, you know, in your preparation.

But I don't think it's like a main factor that you have to focus on, because, you know, sometimes it happens that you lose couple of matches, and you have to go for a big tournament. You don't want to think too much about it.

It has to be coming from me, always have to be confident about your game, have to trust the game. I'm playing for many years now. I practice many, many hours. So, you know, I try to take this as my confidence, my preparation.

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