Svitolina reflects on her Murray moment

  • Alex Sharp
  • Getty Images

In her hometown of Odessa in Ukraine, a tennis-mad 12-year-old named Elina Svitolina leapt at the chance to be a ballkid for an upcoming Davis Cup tie back in September 2006.

The top-ranked national junior for her age group, Svitolina was already laying the groundwork to soar to the top of the WTA Tour.

MORE: Svitolina ready to take her chances

Thrilled to be able to witness world-class tennis on her local courts, Svitolina was eager to do a good job with a certain British prodigy turning up. His name: Andy Murray.

“There was a lot of pressure on the court and I was so excited, I tried to do everything as quickly as possible for the players,” Svitolina told

“I was OK, but there was one time which was very embarrassing for me. I gave a towel to Andy, I then turned to get a ball because I was in a position at the back of the court, they were old, it was a ball change. So, he threw the towel back to me and I missed it, which was bad because they were on clay courts so his towel was very dirty!

“I was embarrassed but in the end, I was very professional and I think I did a good job.”

It was amazing for me to be able to watch Andy from so close, especially as it was the first time he’d played in my country
Elina Svitolina on Andy Murray

Svitolina, currently ranked at world No.6, felt privileged to watch from close quarters as Great Britain closed out a 3-2 away triumph.

“It was very exciting about that time because I was already playing,” explained Svitolina, who lifted the Roland Garros girls’ singles title just four years later in 2010.

“Andy Murray, with his coach Brad Gilbert and Greg Rusedski coming, it was a huge deal for me to be around these stars.

“It was an unbelievable experience for me that weekend, it was amazing for me to be able to watch Andy from so close, especially as it was the first time he’d played in my country.”

Rusedski edged the opening rubber 9-7 in the fifth set facing Sergiy Stakhovsky, then Murray made his mark in a commanding 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Alexandr Dolgopolov to send Great Britain 2-0 into the ascendancy.

Murray and his current coach Jamie Delgado were beaten in the doubles duel, before the Scot wrapped up the tie with a ruthless 6-3 6-2 7-5 dismissal of Stakhovsky to spark jubilant celebrations.

Svitolina had the best seat in the house for Murray's triumph

“We had a strong team and they were some great matches,” reflected Svitolina, motivated by her ballkid experience to boost her own professional tennis pursuit.

“It really inspired me to practice, to go for more, to try and do my best.

“It was something I had always wanted to do, I always like to be around tennis and do these kind of things. It was an unbelievable experience, I’ll never forget it.”

The 24-year-old Svitolina, the sixth seed in Melbourne next week, has had a special vantage point of seeing Murray’s trophy-laden career from close proximity.

Sadly, due to excessive pain from an ongoing hip injury, Murray is being forced to call time on his playing days at Wimbledon later this season.

MORE: ‘I can’t keep doing this’: Murray to call time

“Reading the news yesterday was very sad, he’s one of my favourite players. I always watch his matches and I really support him,” Svitolina said. 

“For me it was very sad, and hopefully he can play the last few events before a successful career afterwards off court too.”

Svitolina has drawn Swiss qualifier Viktorija Golubic in her opening-round clash of Australian Open 2019 on Tuesday.