Tennis: Ukraine's exhausted Svitolina taking break from tennis

Elina Svitolina has struggled for form since her quarter-final defeat in the US Open. PHOTO: USA TODAY SPORTS

PARIS (AFP) - Former world number three Elina Svitolina of Ukraine announced Tuesday (March 29) she was taking a break from tennis because of mental and physical exhaustion.

She said her compatriots' resistance of the Russian invasion of her country had encouraged her to play through back pain, but said "now I can't handle it any more".

"It's been an extremely difficult couple of months for me not only mentally but also physically," the world number 20 wrote on social media.

"For quite a long time I've been struggling with my back. The pain didn't let me prepare for the tournaments at my best.

"Meanwhile, observing with unbearable pain in my heart what is happening in my homeland Ukraine and with how much bravery and courage our Ukrainian people are defending our country, this gave me a huge push to continue and fight on court," continued the 27-year-old.

"Now, my body can't handle it any more and I need to rest. Therefore, I'm sad to announce I'll be missing Fed Cup and few of my favourite tournaments in Europe. But I'm sure I'll see your around soon! Thank you all for your support in the challenging period."

Svitolina, a winner of 16 WTA titles, has struggled for form since her quarter-final defeat in the US Open.

She lost her Indian Wells opener against 122nd ranked Harriet Dart of Britain, and pulled out of the Miami Open which is currently underway.

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