TAIPEI City, Taiwan - Elina Svitolina took home her fifth career WTA title and rose up to the Top 8 on the Road to Singapore leaderboard on Sunday, dismissing Peng Shuai, 6-3, 6-2, to win the Taiwan Open.
"This morning I just decided to give 100%, even 150% if there's such a thing, in this match," she said in her post-match press conference. "It's a final, so you always want to be at the top of your game, but it's not always possible.
"Obviously, your opponent is going to come out confident because she's also in the final and deserves to be there as much as you do. That's why I just tried to give everything on the court, be focused for each point.
"Today, I was playing very well, and stayed solid mentally and physically; that's a positive. I came here to Taipei trying to improve my game, to push myself and see what I could do. This week, then, was very positive."
Up to a career-high of No.13, the Ukrainian youngster was facing a familiar foe in Peng, who began her surge back up the rankings last fall after back surgery by winning the Tianjin Open. The Chinese veteran had won their only previous encounter coming into Sunday's final at the 2014 Connecticut Open - just before she reached her maiden Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open.
"She's always been really aggressive from the baseline," Svitolina said when asked about her opponent. "The change was in myself because when I played her in 2014, I physically much worse, which is why she had the opportunity to get on top of my game.
"I changed a lot; I improved my serve, return, and baseline game. The difference came down more to me than her, because I played more solid today."
Elina Svitolina (@ElinaSvitolina) February 5, 2017
Fighting back from an early break in both sets, Svitolina credited her mental ascendency as being essential not only to her victory in Taipei City, but also in her march towards a potential Top 10 debut in 2017.
"I'm No.13 in the world, so you expect players higher in the rankings to be able to raise their level in tight situations. It happened today at a good moment, and I think I was trying to find this in myself.
"Some days, it doesn't work, but others, when you try again and again, it works in the end. I was very positive and tried to be in the moment, give everything that I had. We were both tired; it was the end of the tournament, and the nerves are always there.
"Finals come down to who can handle nerves better, and so I think I can take a lot of positives from this week. It was a great trip to Taipei."
With a fifth International level title under her belt, Svitolina aims to better her career-best rankings at the bigger tournaments - particularly at the majors, where she has reached the quarterfinals just once at the 2015 French Open.
"The Grand Slams are the main goals, and we're trying to prepare ourselves to be ready for those. But each WTA tournament is very important, every match is an opportunity for me to bring my game to the table. You can only be high in the ranking if you play a good game, and consistency is one of the keys to being on top."
In the doubles final, hometown favorites and top flight doubles team Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan defended their title, defeating the Czech duo of Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova, 6-4, 6-2 in one hour and 11 minutes on court.
"We did very well in the first set and continued the good form through to second," Hao-Ching said after the match. "I think we communicate well and our strategy worked.
"We are able to beat many great teams and we're going quite well. Look forward to winning more titles."
"We didn't start quite well this year without a win before we started Taiwan but really glad that we could defend the title back home," Yung-Jan added.
"We complement each other very well. And we believe we are the right one for each other."
Get on the Road to Singapore to see who are amongst the top 8 in the first Leaderboard update!
This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.