Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina wins women’s tennis bronze medal

Elina Svitolina of Team Ukraine plays a backhand during her Women's Singles Bronze Medal match against Elena Rybakina of Team Kazakhstan on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Elina Svitolina of Team Ukraine plays a backhand during her Women's Singles Bronze Medal match against Elena Rybakina of Team Kazakhstan on day eight of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 31, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Elina Svitolina wins women’s tennis bronze and Ukraine's first ever Olympic medal in tennis

Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina is leaving the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with a bronze medal in the women’s singles.

Svitolina fought back to beat Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan and win Ukraine’s first ever Olympic tennis medal.

The number four seed came back from one set down to win 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.

"It's an unbelievable feeling to be fair. Coming here my goal was to win a gold medal," said Svitolina.

"It was extremely tough to lose in the semi-final and then to try to regroup and come again against a top player who is playing really good.

"To win such a big battle for the bronze, it means the world for me. Everyone in Ukraine is watching, we don't win so many medals, it's very special for me and Ukraine."

Rybakina and Svitolina had both won one match apiece in their head-to-head standings before this one. And here, they were battling for an Olympic medal.

The first set of the play-off was a one-sided affair.

The Kazakh player won the first three games without reply. The Ukrainian won the fourth game to take the score to 3-1.

Rybakina then won the next three games to close out the set 6-1 on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park.

The second set began in the same way as the first. Rybakina, the 15th seed, raced to a 3-1 lead.

However, Svitolina hit back to take the second set 7-6(5) on a tie-break.

With the match delicately poised, the third and final set followed the pattern of the first two.

Rybakina moved clear into a 3-0, then 4-1 lead.

But Svitolina fought back to level the set at 4-4, before taking the lead 5-4.

After seven bronze-medal match points, Svitolina took the final set 6-4 and the bronze medal along with it.

"It was a tough match," said Rybakina. "I again missed many opportunities. I gave everything I could. 

"I still think it's a good week for me, good matches, and I will keep on going."

"I was up many moments, and it's not easy," she added, "She [Svitolina] was fighting too. She wanted to win so bad. Every point was tough."