World No.6 Elina Svitolina won the Olympic bronze medal in women’s singles, rallying from 1-4 down in the final set to defeat Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 and win Ukraine’s first-ever Olympic tennis medal on Saturday.
Playing in her second Olympics, Elina’s determination was the story of her bronze-medal run. Four of her six matches were won in a deciding set.
Elina defeated Germany’s Laura Siegemund, Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, Greece’s Maria Sakkari, and Italy’s Camila Giorgi, before losing in the semifinals to Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
Against Rybakina, who breezed through the tournament without losing a set before the semifinals, Elina grafted for 2 hours and 24 minutes, which was still just the third-longest match she played this week.
In the first set, Elina managed to win just five points across her three service games. After fending off Elina in a 10-minute game to hold to 2-1, Rybakina overwhelmed the Ukrainian’s serve to pocket the opener in 28 minutes.
After falling behind an early break in the second set, Elina dug deep into her reserves to stage a fine comeback and win the set. The final set was far tougher as Elina, trailing 1-4, staged a remarkable recovery to defeat her opponent 6-4 and clinch the bronze.
In her only previous Olympic appearance in 2016, Elina had defeated Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, Great Britain’s Heather Watson, and American star Serena Williams to reach the quarterfinals before losing to eventual bronze medallist Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic.