Elina Svitolina says she’s playing at the French Open not just for her, but for boyfriend Gael Monfils, who was dumped out of his home grand slam in the first round.
Svitolina has had to go it alone largely without the support of Monfils after reaching the quarter-finals of the French Open for the third time on Sunday.
'SHOULDN’T HAVE PLAYED': Zverev’s French Open virus furore
‘WRONG DECISION’: Djokovic slams 'dangerous' French Open call
Eighth seed Monfils crashed out to Alexander Bublik in the opening round, his earliest exit at Roland Garros in 15 years.
Svitolina said she was feeling for Monfils, especially considering she hasn’t been able to have any contact with his since he was eliminated.
“To be fair, right now I'm thinking I’m playing for both of us,” Svitolina told reports on Sunday.
“I know how much he loves to compete here in Paris and how much he loves to play in front of big crowds.
“Unfortunately this year it's a bit different. So it’s really sad that he couldn’t play his best.”
At the US Open in 2019 the couple became the first to simultaneously reach the quarter-finals in New York in at least a decade.
Svitolina is currently World No.5 on the women’s tour, while Monfils is World No.9 in the ATP.
Svitolina survives as big names crash out
Ukraine's Svitolina, the highest seed left in the tournament after the exit of Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova, made the quarter-finals for a third time with her 6-1, 6-3 win over Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia.
Svitolina, 26, and 34-year-old Monfils started dating almost two years ago and have even given themselves a common identity which dots their frequent social media updates - 'G.E.M.S.' which meshes 'Gael', 'Elina', 'Monfils' and 'Svitolina'.
“I always love the way that he pushes me to be better, and I also try to motivate him to be better person, better tennis player,” said Svitolina.
“I think this is the way that it has to be, and you have to really support each other and push for better results.”
They share near-misses at the grand slams.
Both have twice reached semi-finals - Monfils at Roland Garros in 2008 and the US Open in 2016. Svitolina fell at last-four stage at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2019.
Next up for Svitolina in Paris is a quarter-final clash against Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska, ranked 131 in the world, who defeated Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 2-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Svitolina will be desperate to erase the bitter memory of her last run to the last eight in 2017 when she led Halep 6-3, 5-1, and had a match point, before suffering a spectacular collapse.
Podoroska, 23, is making her debut in Paris and became the second qualifier to make the last eight on Sunday following Italian world number 159 Martina Trevisan's 6-4, 6-4 win over Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens.
Podoroska, who was ranked at 255 at the start of the season, has now won 42 matches across all tours in 2020 despite the truncated season and will make her top 100 debut after the tournament.
She will now bid to emulate compatriot Paola Suarez who made the semi-finals in Paris in 2004.
Three years ago, on her only other visit to Paris, Podoroska fell in the first round of qualifying, losing to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic in just 39 minutes, winning just 21 points.
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.