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Elina Svitolina column: I hope injury won’t threaten Wimbledon hopes


Elina Svitolina BBC Sport columnist

World number nine Elina Svitolina, who has won 13 singles titles on the WTA Tour, has been writing columns for the BBC Sport website during the French Open.

The 24-year-old Ukrainian lost 6-3 6-3 to 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round at Roland Garros on Friday.

In her final column, she talks about her concerns a knee injury may disrupt the grass-court season, what went wrong against Spain’s Muguruza, how living in London has led to British habits and paying 12,000 euros (£10,500) for a young Ukrainian player to have surgery on a serious injury.

The hours after being knocked out of a Grand Slam are not the moments to make rash decisions.

But I’ve been managing a knee injury for a while and against Garbine it felt the same.

So maybe I will need an MRI scan on my knee next week and see what is the best option going into the grass-court season.

Of course there is a concern I might not play on the grass at all if a scan shows something really serious.

But, feeling how I feel now, I think I will have enough time to recover for Wimbledon.

Against Garbine it was very tough to keep focus and concentration – maybe it was the lack of matches at the highest level over the past two or three months.

Before Roland Garros I had only played two matches – losing in Madrid and Rome – since the Miami Open in March.

The problem didn’t get any worse in the match against Garbine though, so that is good.

Grass is tricky because you have to be ready for movements which could maybe damage the knee more.

It has not been easy for the past two months. I need to see where I am now and take my time.

I have to speak with my team and speak with doctors about when I should start playing on the grass.

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‘I was lost on court’

It is tough to say if Garbine is now the favourite to win Roland Garros but she definitely can play well here – obviously she won here three years ago.

It wasn’t an amazing match but she took her chances and served well when she had to.

I made too many unforced errors and too many poor decisions.

Normally my game is about getting balls back and not making many unforced errors. Normally I’m dictating the point.

But I was a bit lost on court. I didn’t feel so good with the decisions I made.

I hadn’t played since Sunday – when I beat Venus Williams – because my next opponent Kateryna Kozlova pulled out of our match on Wednesday with illness.

It’s tough to say if losing serve five times in the first set and only landing 37% of first serves was down to not playing for so long.

She returned well and I was not concentrating on what I had to do.

I have to go back and analyse and see what I did wrong and move forward.

There is no time to be sad. You have to be ready for the next tournament.

I have to be mentally strong. This is a big part of tennis, getting through these moments.

‘Now I drink tea like the British’

As a top-10 player, I have the privilege of being allowed to practise at Wimbledon early so – injury permitting – I can start playing on the grass in plenty of time.

At the moment I am scheduled to play Birmingham and Eastbourne before Wimbledon, but it depends on my health.

I used to live in London and still have an apartment there so I enjoy going back.

I love the city and that will be my base for the grass-court season.

I love the parks, the small cafes, the nice people and the atmosphere. I enjoy simply walking around and spending time there.

My favourite place is Chelsea, by the harbour, that’s really nice.

And I’ve actually started drinking English tea – with milk. In Ukraine we don’t put milk in tea, we only have green tea.

So that’s the most British thing I’ve learned!

Svitolina was seeded fifth at last year’s Wimbledon

‘I didn’t hesitate to help’

Two weeks ago I heard a 16-year-old Ukrainian player called Daria Lopatetska got injured at a 25k event in Rome and her parents couldn’t afford to pay 12,000 euros (£10,500) for her knee surgery.

As soon as I saw the news, I didn’t hesitate before calling them and offering to pay.

It was important for me to react straight away.

I was sad when I heard because it is a very young age to go through bad injuries. It can damage your future.

I think it is important to help the young generation of Ukrainian players because we can’t afford to lose any future stars.

She was happy that I could help and her parents were very thankful.

It is important to help people when you can and I hope she recovers soon because she is one of Ukraine’s rising stars.

Elina Svitolina was talking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko at Roland Garros.

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