PARIS (Reuters) -World number six Elina Svitolina has turned to psychology to help her on court and the benefits were there for all to see as she cruised into the French Open third round with an emphatic 6-0 6-4 victory over American Ann Li on Thursday.
Svitolina, seeking her maiden Grand Slam title, revealed she has signed up for online psychology courses in a bid to cope with the drastic changes in the professional athlete’s lifestyle in a post-COVID world.
“I’m very interested in psychology,” the fifth-seeded Ukrainian told a news conference.
“I think it’s very important, especially these days with everything what’s happening with COVID, with all the restrictions that we get and anything that happens with athletes.
“It’s important to keep yourself really composed, really like sane with your mind, to be just ready for anything what comes your way and try to accept that and work with that.”
Svitolina stormed out of the blocks to break Li’s serve in the opening game before dictating play from the baseline to consolidate her lead.
World number 75 Li struggled to create opportunities to break the 26-year-old Ukrainian, who won 12 of her 14 first-serve points to claim an opening-set bagel in just 29 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.
Li, who was playing her first tournament back from a two-month layoff due to an abdominal tear, got on the scoreboard early in the second set and opened up a surprise 3-0 lead with a string of blistering forehands.
But Svitolina soon regained her composure as she reeled off five straight games to book a place in the third round in an hour and 14 minutes.
“Two sets was definitely something that I was hoping for,” Svitolina said. “I found a way, and a good level in the end.”
Up next for Svitolina is Czech Barbora Krejcikova, who defeated Russia’s 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-3.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in BengaluruEditing by Toby Davis)