Elina Svitolina suffers fresh blow amid brutal start to 2021

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Elina Svitolina, pictured here in action at the Dubai Tennis Championship.
Elina Svitolina has suffered heartbreak on and off the court in 2021. Image: Getty

Elina Svitolina has crashed out of the Dubai Tennis Championships at the first hurdle, continuing a rough start to the year for the World No.5.

The tournament's top seed was beaten by veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in her opening match on Tuesday.

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Svitolina lost to an injured Victoria Azarenka in Doha last week and failed to take advantage of winning the first set as she fell 2-6 6-4 6-1 to 35-year-old Kuznetsova.

"I'm really disappointed with Doha and Dubai," said Svitolina.

"For sure it hurts but I have to analyse, I have to work on my fitness, I have to work on my game on the practice courts.

"There are still many tournaments this year and I have to move forward."

As well as her on-court struggles, Svitolina is also going through a break-up with fellow tennis star Gael Monfils.

The tennis golden couple had been dating since 2019 but announced during the Australian Open that they've decided to “take a break in our relationship”.

“The decision was incredibly difficult, because we still have love for each other,” they said in a joint statement.

“But it’s just two best friends realising it’s time to take some space and help each other live the most joyous, fulfilled lives as possible.

“We won’t be commenting beyond this, and we thank you all in advance for respecting our privacy.

“Sending lots of love to everyone.”

Svetlana Kuznetsova, pictured here during her clash with Elina Svitolina in Dubai.
Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrates during her clash with Elina Svitolina. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)

Petra Kvitova forced to retire hurt

Meanwhile, Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova's stay at the tournament was short-lived as she pulled out with a thigh injury while trailing 6-2 3-4 to Jil Teichmann.

Kvitova, who won the Qatar Open at the weekend, said she had felt her adductor since then and in the second set it became worse.

"Unfortunately I couldn't move how I wanted and I didn't want it to get even worse. That's why I retired. I put everything into it," the two-time Wimbledon winner said.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova remains in the tournament at Dubai after a 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 victory over Anastasija Sevastova.

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4 but fifth seed Kiki Bertens, who is on the comeback trail following Achilles surgery, lost 6-1 6-4 to Tereza Martincova.

French Open champion Iga Swiatek continued her winning run following her title in Adelaide with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Misaki Doi.

There were also wins for Belinda Bencic and Elise Mertens, but seeds Madison Keys and Marketa Vondrousova were beaten.

Vondrousova fell 3-6 6-0 6-4 to American teenager Coco Gauff in a feisty match.

Tension stemmed from Gauff querying with the umpire whether Vondrousova was allowed to catch a ball toss with her racket. 

The American later appeared to aim a drive volley at her opponent.

Garbine Muguruza, who Kvitova beat in the final on Saturday, defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-4 6-2.

with agencies

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