Ukrainian tennis player Elina Svitolina won the bronze medal in the women’s singles at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Svitolina lost to Czech Markéta Vondroušová in the semifinals 6-3, 6-1, so in the fight for the bronze medal, she faced Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan.
The Kharkivite defeated the Kazakh player and won Ukraine’s first-ever Olympic tennis medal. The number four seed came back from 1-4 down in the final set to win Bronze 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
In the first set, Svitolina could not match the Kazakh’s powerful tennis which helped Elena to take the first set in less than half an hour – 6:1. Rybakina led 3:1 with a break in the second set, after which Svitolina showed her fighting qualities, and began to fight for almost every ball, forcing the Kazakh athlete to make more mistakes. The Ukrainian broke Kazakh’s serve and snatched the victory in the set with a tie-break 7:5.
In the deciding set, Rybakina quickly broke Svitolina’s serve again and led 3: 0. At 1:4 Elina was able to regain her best form again, breaking back and changing the match score to 2:4. Rybakina alternated spectacular winners with unforced errors, due partly to the brilliant Svitolina’s defense. The Kharkivite broke once again leveling at 4:4 and closed the match on her serve with the seventh match ball 6:4.
The Ukrainian athlete said that after the defeat in the semifinals, it was very hard to “get back on track.” “This victory is just incredible. I am glad that I succeeded and this medal means a lot to me,” Svitolina admitted.
Text: Natalia Ivanova and Rick Wilson