Hard work paying off for Svitolina
The past two years have been a runway to several firsts for Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina.
From her first win over former world No. 1 Serena Williams at the Rio Olympics last year, to being the first Ukrainian to break into the WTA top 10 this year, Svitolina has stamped her mark in women's tennis.
In February, Svitolina won her first Premier 5 title in Dubai, and went on to become the first WTA player to win three Premier 5 titles in a season.
The Premier 5 is the third-highest tier of tournaments on the WTA tour, after the Grand Slams and Premier Mandatory events.
She will become the first Ukrainian player to compete in the singles event at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from Sunday to Oct 29.
In a round-table interview yesterday, the world No. 4 said: "I've worked really hard since I was young.
"I've changed coaches a number of times, and there was something I could learn from each partnership.
"For me, everything pieced together nicely through the years and I'm more mature with my game now.
"I definitely worked hard off-season because it was something important to do, and it paid off."
While the 23-year-old has her eyes set firmly on the WTA Finals crown, she is also looking forward to touring Singapore and tasting local delicacies.
Yesterday morning, Svitolina got up close and personal with the orang utans at the Singapore Zoo.
An animal lover, she has a pet dog called Kobe, which she named after retired NBA star Kobe Bryant.
She said: "The Singapore Zoo is impressive. I didn't expect that I could meet the orang utans that close, so it's something very, very special.
"This is my first time in Singapore so I will take time after the tournament to explore more, for sure."
The WTA Finals singles field will feature Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Svitolina, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Ostapenko and Caroline Garcia.
Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson yesterday became the final pair to qualify for the doubles field, joining Martina Hingis/Chan Yung-jan, defending champions Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina, Ashleigh Barty/Casey Dellacqua, Timea Babos/Andrea Hlavackova, Anna-Lena Groenefeld/Kveta Peschke, Gabriela Dabrowski/Xu Yifan and Andreja Klepac/Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez.
The draw for the singles event will be held today.