ROME, Italy - It was a new year, but the same result for Elina Svitolina in Rome on Sunday.
The World No.4 successfully defended her title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in a repeat of last year's championship that was similar in all but seeding and scoreline.
The Ukrainian, who defeated No.6 seed Simona Halep last year as the No.8 seed in a three-set championship, rolled past the now-World No.1 in this year's edition, 6-0, 6-4.
"It was a really good match from my side. I think I dominated all the match. I was trying to put lots of pressure on Simona with my game, tried to really take the ball early and to open the court," Svitolina told reporters after the match.
"It worked really good today. I was feeling good, and I think it was good match for me."
Svitolina powered her way to a first-set bagel with the loss of just eight points, and never dropped serve over the course of 68 minutes to win her third title of the season, and improve to 12-2 in career finals at WTA level.
The victory is also her eighth consecutive final won on tour, dating back nearly two years to a defeat to Petra Kvitova in the finals of the WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai.
While she's made the final stage look easy in recent years, the 23-year-old disclosed to reporters that her mindset with a trophy on the line dates all the way back to her junior days - when she was defeated by Eugenie Bouchard as the No.3 seed in the 2012 Wimbledon junior girls' final while winning four games.
Though she couldn't recall the exact score, the Ukrainian confessed: "I always remember when I lost a very painful final against [Eugenie] Bouchard at Wimbledon in juniors. This really taught me a lot. It was really very painful. I wanted to win that but I lost 6-2, 6-1, or something. I think from that final I said to myself, I'm never gonna just go there and do nothing.
"In that final, I was like so stressed, so scared, that I didn't even play two balls into the court. Ever since that moment I decided that I'm gonna go out there and do something. Today from the first point, I was trying to play really aggressive, go for my shots, and create the game.
"I was very, very sad for some time, because I wanted to win that Wimbledon junior title so badly. That's experience, of course. You are sad, then you are angry - and then you try to take [out of it] what you have done, what would you have done differently. It definitely it helped me. You can see results, I think."
While she has yet to reach the semifinals of a Grand Slam, the Ukrainian's victory in Rome ensured she'll have the best opportunity to do that: defending her title clinched the No.4 seed for the upcoming French Open - where she lost a heartbreaker to Halep in the last eight a year ago.
"It's gonna be different, definitely, from the last year. Last year, I was almost -- [it was the] first time for me going into the Grand Slam as a favorite. I'm going to take it as a challenge first. For me, it's very important to take one match at a time and just go out there and enjoy playing on the big courts, and atmosphere.
"A Grand Slam, it's pressure from everywhere. You also have expectations from yourself. You have to be mentally ready, physically ready, probably more than a normal tournament. I try to approach a Grand Slam same as any other tournament, but you have in the back of your mind that it is a Grand Slam. There is something different about it.
"Everyone is more motivated to play against you when you are high seed, but Roland Garros, that's what we are training for and I'm gonna give it my best shot."
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This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.