Misc Tennis

Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska and Marta Kostyuk making historic Australian Open run

Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska and Marta Kostyuk making historic Australian Open run

Tears ran down Elina Svitolina‘s face as she left the court at Margaret Court Arena on Monday.

She had to retire from her Australian Open fourth-round match against Linda Noskova after just three games because of what she later described as a back spasm, and her latest potential dream run at a major was over.

But despite the obvious disappointment from her own result, the 29-year-old couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride soon after as her fellow Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska defeated Victoria Azarenka to advance to the quarterfinals. Their fellow countrywoman Marta Kostyuk had already reached the round on Sunday with a win over Maria Timofeeva, marking the first time two Ukrainian women have reached the final eight at a major in history.

“It’s great for Ukrainian tennis,” Svitolina told reporters Monday. “It’s great for the upcoming generation as well, especially now these days when Ukraine in such a tough time. It’s good that we have strong Ukrainian girls; hopefully we can continue to build on this.”

There had been seven Ukrainian women in the main draw in Melbourne — another record Svitolina had pointed out multiple times throughout her run at the tournament — and she previously said they all were “pushing each other.” Kostyuk, 21, said she and Svitolina had practiced together a few times and the pair go out to dinner together when they’re able.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022, Svitolina and her peers have been vocal in their support for their home country as well as the personal toll the war has taken on them and their families. Svitolina has held fundraisers, charity events and even youth tennis tournaments in war-torn cities. Kostyuk’s entire family remains in Kyiv and she has urged for the banning of Russian and Belarusian players on tour while the war is ongoing.

Yastremska, 23, was in her hometown of Odessa when the attack first began — she was forced to hide in a parking garage with her family as bombs went off all around them — and ultimately had to flee with her younger sister to France.

All three, like the majority of their Ukrainian peers on tour, do not shake hands with their Russian or Belarusian opponents. Kostyuk did not acknowledge Timofeeva (of Russia) after their match, nor did Yastremska acknowledge Azarenka (Belarus). It’s a small act that they hope sends a greater message to those at home and around the world.

Hours after her win Monday, Yastremska was candid in saying she had…

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