Wimbledon 2019: Elina Svitolina's coach Andy Bettles on their partnership

Andy Bettles with Elina Svitolina
Svitolina won the 2018 WTA Tour Finals in Singapore under the guidance of Bettles

Johanna Konta might have lost in the Wimbledon quarter-finals but there is still British representation - of sorts - in the women's semi-finals on Thursday.

Englishman Andy Bettles is the coach of Ukrainian eighth seed Elina Svitolina, who plays her first Grand Slam semi-final when she faces 2018 French Open champion Simona Halep.

The 26-year-old from Somerset has risen from being a talented junior player who was "probably not good enough" for a professional career to coaching one of the leading stars on the WTA Tour.

After moving to the United States to study and graduating in English literature, he became former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic's hitting partner before joining Svitolina's team in December 2016.

Now the London-based coach is preparing to watch his charge from the players' box on Centre Court, which he says will be an "amazing" feeling.

"As a Brit growing up, Wimbledon is always so special. So now I almost have to pinch myself," he said.

"I guess the biggest moment in my playing career was playing in the juniors here.

"It was a hot day, I was so nervous, I could barely hold the grip. I hit about three double faults in the first game. I'm hoping to create better memories here now."

After winning a British junior title and then becoming a top college player when he moved to study at Boise State University in Idaho, he eventually decided coaching rather than playing would be a better career choice.

Graduating in 2014, he linked up with former world number one Ivanovic the following year and spent some time hitting with her in Manchester when her husband Bastian Schweinsteiger played for Premier League side United.

Andy Bettles
Bettles was beaten 6-3 6-4 by Spain's Roberto Carballes Baena - now ranked 74th in the world - in the Wimbledon juniors in 2011

Bettles started working with Svitolina, who used to live in London and speaks fluent English, when she was sharing coaches with France's two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

"Thierry (Ascione) couldn't do all the weeks and it gradually progressed from there. My role was always assistant, never just hitting balls and being quiet," he said.

"I guess I said the right things and got the trust of her."

Bettles helped guide the 24-year-old to victory in last year's season-ending WTA Finals and the pair are now hoping she can go even further by reaching - and eventually winning - her maiden Grand Slam final.

"It's important to take a step back and reflect on a personal note how quickly my career has moved along," he said.

"I probably wasn't good enough a player but the coaching side always fascinated me. I have been really lucky to work with some amazing coaches when I started my career and luckily Elina trusted me to be her main coach.

"Because we are similar ages, we get on so well. I can understand what she is going through.

"We are good friends too so it's not like I am the boss. We talk things through, work things out together.

"There are a few things we sometimes disagree on and they are discussion points. I tell her my point of view. But she says, when I am in the match, this is what it feels like, I can never really know what she sees."

Despite being a former world number three, Svitolina's surge into the Wimbledon last four has been somewhat of a surprise.

Growing up learning her craft on clay courts in the Ukrainian city of Odessa meant she was often tipped to make her big Grand Slam breakthrough on the slower surface at the French Open rather the grass at the All England Club.

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Highlights as Svitolina beats Muchova

She has also struggled with a knee injury for much of the year and, speaking in her BBC Sport column after losing at Roland Garros, said she feared the problem could even rule her out of Wimbledon.

"After picking up the injury she struggled for general fitness and match fitness but she is finding match form again. She is moving well," Bettles added.

"You don't need to change your game much on grass. The grass is playing pretty slow. It's about playing aggressive.

"Grass is a leveller. You can use that to your advantage as well."

Svitolina might be in unchartered territory after becoming the first Ukrainian woman to reach a Wimbledon semi-final, but Bettles says she will not be fazed by the spotlight.

"I have never felt pressure is a big thing for her," he said.

"She has won her last nine finals so steps up on the biggest stages.

"I am sure she gets nerves, she is human but she buckles down and fights harder. That is what we focus on. Fighting, moving, running, all her best qualities, keep focusing on that."

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