Yastremska in Lyon last-eight after war escape

Ukrainian tennis player says ‘I want to win for my country’ following 6-2, 6-3 victory over Spaniard Bucsa

AFP March 04, 2022


Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska made the Lyon WTA quarter-finals on Thursday, less than a week after escaping Russian bomb attacks on her home city of Odessa, and insisted: "I want to win for my country".

The 21-year-old Yastremska arrived on court with a Ukraine flag draped around her shoulders and just over an hour later was celebrating a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 win over Spain's Cristina Bucsa.

"I was very nervous because I want to win the matches for my country. This tournament is very emotional for me. But I'm very happy with the win today," Yastremska, a former top-25 player now ranked 140th, said on court.

"I was able to control my emotions better than in my first match and that's why I was able to deliver a good performance.”

At her post-match news conference, she added: "This is another victory for me and another victory for my country.  We'll see what happens on Friday (in the quarter-finals), if I can raise my physical level."

In her opening match on Tuesday, she had to save two match points in a marathon win against Ana Bogdan.

Afterwards, she spoke of how she was "woken up by bombs" when Russia invaded Ukraine last week, before embarking on an arduous journey to France.

Her father and mother remained in the Black Sea port city of Odessa after saying goodbye to their daughters when they crossed the Danube by boat to reach Romania.

Yastremska, who has won three WTA titles but none since May 2019, also played doubles in Lyon with 15-year-old sister Ivanna on Monday.

"On Wednesday, we were at home in Odessa. We were spending time with our family before making this long trip to Lyon with my father," she explained.

"The evening was pleasant, but the next morning we were woken up by bombs.

"We didn't realise or understand what was going on. It was crazy. It wasn't a film or a video game – we were very shocked.

"We left the apartment to take shelter in the underground car park while the bombs continued to explode."

She added: "The journey took four hours to reach the Danube on the Romanian border. We were afraid of bombs or Russian tanks."

On Friday, Yastremska will face either Italian fifth seed and world number 48 Jasmine Paolini or 167th-ranked Tatiana Korpatsch of Germany.


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