Tennis: Elina Svitolina battles past Elena Rybakina to claim Strasbourg title

Svitolina returns a ball to Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina.
Svitolina returns a ball to Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina.PHOTO: AFP

STRASBOURG, FRANCE (REUTERS) - World number five Elina Svitolina held off a spirited challenge from Elena Rybakina to lift the Strasbourg International title with a 6-4 1-6 6-2 win on Saturday (Sept 26).

Second seed Svitolina, the 2010 French Open junior champion, will return to Roland Garros next week on the back of her fifth claycourt triumph in as many finals.

In chilly conditions, the Ukrainian fended off eight of the 10 break points faced in a hard-fought encounter and made only 23 unforced errors in comparison to Rybakina's 34.

After losing the second set, Svitolina responded in the opening game of the decider by saving four break points before racing away with the final four games to seal victory in just under two hours.

"The (points saved) really gave me confidence to come back in the match. It gave me hope and a better feel after a one-sided second set," Svitolina told a news conference.

"The conditions were not easy but you have to adjust really quickly. It was important for me to come out and play my game.

"I didn't play in the US Open so it was important to play a few matches here. Hopefully I can recover quickly for my first match in Paris on Monday."

Svitolina, chasing her maiden Grand Slam title, will meet Russian Varvara Gracheva in the first round of the French Open.