Two-time Dubai champion Elina Svitolina admitted on Saturday that prize money reductions on the WTA due to the pandemic can weigh upon a player’s mind.

The Ukrainian who lifted  the title in the Emirate in 2017 and 2018 earned USD 651,000 and 487,000 for those two trophy performances.

By contrast, champion at the edition which begins on Monday at the Aviation Club will bank less than USD 220,000 due to cutbacks in prize money caused by the lack of paying spectators allowed around the Tour due to COVID restrictions.

While Svitolina is approaching USD 20 million in career prize money, every little helps in a career with a definite shelf life.

“I didn’t start playing tennis at age four to win a lot of money,” she told  pre-tournament media. “I loved the game, competing and winning.”

But she added: “It’s a significant change in prize money and it’s not easy for some players to adjust.

“It’s a little bit tough, we are spoiled from when prize money was high. It can play a small role in the motivation. Hopefully we can get back to where we were before.”

Svitolina takes the top seeding at the Aviation Club ahead of Czech Karolina Pliskova.

The tournament was rocked by injury defections from No. 1 Ash Barty and third-ranked Simona Halep. Only four of the ranking Top 10 are entered.