Few players came into the 2017 BNP Paribas Open as hot as Ukrainian baseliner Elina Svitolina. Following a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 third-round loss to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Australian Open, the world No. 10 has reeled off 14 straight wins — a streak that produced titles in Taipei and Dubai, and a pair of key Fed Cup wins in Ukraine’s 3-1 triumph over of Australia. BNPParibasOpen.com sat down with the highest ranked player in Ukrainian tennis history following her second-round 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) win over China’s Qiang Wang at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Q: Outside of your withdrawal in Kuala Lumpur, you’ve now won 14 straight matches. What’s working so well for you right now?
Elina Svitolina: I don't think about it when I go on court. Of course, I have confidence and I try to do what I've been working on with my new team [coach Gabriel Urpi, consultant Thierry Ascione and hitting partner Andrew Bettles]. That's why I have a different focus compared to last year. I'm just trying to play my best, to give 100 percent always. I've won 14 straight matches, so something is working well. When it finally happens -- everyone loses eventually -- I will probably realize what I was doing. But now I just want to keep my head down and stay focused.
Q: Justine Henin had been playing an advisory role for you. She was such a champion. What did she bring to your game?
ES: When she was playing, it was something unbelievable. With her height and the way she moved, she played some great tennis, going from defense to offense so easily. She has a winning mentality. It’s all about hard work. That’s why she was No. 1 and won so many Grand Slams. She worked really hard. She found what was right for her. This was very important to find for myself as well.
Q: How would you describe your personality?
ES: I think every player is different on court and off. When you're on court, most of the time it's an extreme situation. When you're winning, you’re more calm. When you're losing, you're under pressure. I try to be dominant in matches. But off court I'm very shy sometimes. Quiet and shy.
Q: What is the Indian Wells experience for you?
ES: For me, this tournament is one of the best. You always have a place to relax. You have plenty of places to warm up. You can go in the gym; you can go outside. It’s very important for the players to have a choice, to have that freedom. You can have a car, you can use tournament transportation, you can get housing or get a hotel. When you have a choice, it’s always much better. You always feel more calm here. Hawk-Eye makes a big difference, too. It’s on every court.
Q: What music are you listening to these days?
ES: AC/DC has always been there. I’m a fan. And the Ukrainian band Okean Elzy. [Frontman Slava Vakarchuk] sings a lot about the history of Ukraine.