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Svitolina says best preparation on clay in years not adding to pressure

WTA Premier 5 - Italian Open

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 16, 2020 Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in action during her second round match against Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Pool via REUTERS/Clive Brunskill

September 17, 2020

(Reuters) – Elina Svitolina said her extended preparation for the claycourt swing after opting out of the U.S. Open was not a guarantee of success and she will not put herself under pressure ahead of the French Open this month.

Svitolina beat Marie Bouzkova to seize her first title of the season at the Monterrey Open in Mexico in March before the season was suspended due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The world number six then joined a number of top players in opting out of the U.S. Open and made her return at the Italian Open on Wednesday, where she beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3 7-6(4).

“For sure, it was different as I had probably the longest preparation ever for the claycourt (season)… To be fair I feel quite comfortable or at least I’m giving myself a good chance to move better,” two-times Rome winner Svitolina told reporters.

“I try to not put so much pressure on myself, that others were not able to play on clay, because it’s important to focus on your game and try to play as good as you can.

“In the end, I’m happy because it feels easier on the clay, I would say, than other years but we’ll see. It’s a good chance that I can play well but there’s never a guarantee that you’ll win here or there.”

The 26-year-old said that she had worked on her touch and movement ahead of Roland Garros, which starts on Sept. 27.

“I was trying drop shots … movement was one of the most important things for me so that was my priority,” she said.

“When you’re training for so long on clay, you start to slide more, mix up things, so that was what I was doing.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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