Elina Svitolina injury update & tells how back inflamed after playing on painkillers

Svitolina has been battling a back issue since the Australian Open.

by Dzevad Mesic
Elina Svitolina injury update & tells how back inflamed after playing on painkillers
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Elina Svitolina reveals she was able to return to action in Dubai with the help of painkillers but also admits that it came with a price since her back inflamed again and left her unable to practice for a full week leading up to Indian Wells. 

At the Australian Open, Svitolina started with three straight-set wins but her promising run ended in the round-of-16 after a back issue forced her to retire against Linda Noskova just three games into the match. 

Svitolina, who sounded pretty shocked in her post-match press conference by her back injury, skipped a WTA 1000 tournament in Doha in mid-February but made her comeback in Dubai the following week. In Dubai, Svitolina defeated Anhelina Kalinina and Tatjana Maria in two sets before Iga Swiatek ousted her with a 6-1 6-4 scoreline on February 21st. 

While Svitolina was able to clinch two wins in Dubai, she wasn't anywhere near her best physically as her back started causing her pain and discomfort just before the tournament started. 

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

"When I withdrew from Doha, I decided to go straight to Dubai to prepare for the tournament. I felt fine, but a few days before the competition started, my back started hurting again. I still decided to play there because I really wanted to play tournaments again. I had to take painkillers to play somehow," Svitolina told Ukrainian Tennis BTU. 

"After the tournament, I had another test, and it showed that I had inflammation again, and I had to take about a week off from training on the court.

"I only worked out a little bit in the gym because I couldn't push myself too hard. After I arrived in Indian Wells, I started playing on the court."

Svitolina on her current back condition

After suffering back inflammation in Dubai, Svitolina was able to improve her back condition and start the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells. In the desert, the 16th-seeded Ukrainian didn't have to play in the first round since she had a bye, but when she kicked off her tournament on Saturday, she did with a 6-3 2-6 6-1 win over Katerina Siniakova. 

Against Siniakova, Svitolina's back responded well but the Ukrainian remains closely monitoring the situation regarding her injury. Also, Svitolina - who will be turning 30 in September - acknowledged that she is getting older and admitted that practicing is getting tougher, especially when she is dealing with an injury or a physical setback. 

"I feel fine now. We go day by day, look at how the back reacts to matches, to training. Of course, it's very tough now, because I can't train like I did when I was younger (laughs), when I practiced for three hours," Svitolina said. 

"Now it's a maximum of an hour and a half. I need to adapt to my health condition and try to give my best at every training session whenever I have the opportunity."

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina © Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike

Svitolina on 'really difficult' Indian Wells conditions

When Svitolina took on Siniakova over the weekend, she was making her first appearance in the desert since 2022 - last year, the former world No. 3 skipped Indian Wells because her post-pregnancy comeback still didn't start at that point. 

In the first set, both players were constantly creating break point chances but the only break of the set came in the sixth game when Svitolina broke Siniakova. During the first set, the Ukrainian faced break points in three games but managed to save a total of five break points en route to winning the opener with a 6-3 scoreline.

Down by a set, Siniakova responded by breaking Svitolina in the second and eighth games of the second set to force a decider. 

After easily losing the second set, Svitolina impressively bounced back as she broke Siniakova three times and didn't face any break points en route to dominating the third set to complete a three-set win.

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

When assessing her opening win, Svitolina noted that the conditions were pretty tough and mentioned the new balls as the main reason. 

"The conditions are really difficult. The ball is very heavy because it swells up and becomes somewhat huge," Svitolina said.

"There is a significant difference between when the ball is new and when it has been played for several games. And also whether you play a day or a night session. When you play in the evening, it feels like you're at an entirely different tournament (laughs)."

On Monday, Svitolina is scheduled to play her third-round match and take on rising American star Emma Navarro in the evening session in Indian Wells. 

For Svitolina and world No. 23 Navarro - who won her first WTA title in Hobart earlier this year - it will be their first meeting.

Elina Svitolina Australian Open