Fans warned about no handshake between Svitolina and Azarenka at Citi Open

The warning was made to remove any confusion or controversy that has surfaced in previous encounters between Ukrainian and Russian/Belarusian players

Elina Svitolina at 2023 Wimbledon Championships Elina Svitolina at 2023 Wimbledon Championships

Fans at the Citi Open in Washington DC were given a pre-emptive warning that there would be no handshake between Elina Svitolina and Victoria Azarenka at the end of their first round encounter.

The message appeared on screens at the end of the first set, which the Ukrainian took on a tiebreak.

“At the conclusion of the match there will be no handshake between the players,” read the message.

“We appreciate your respect for both athletes during and following the match, and for your understanding during these difficult circumstances.”

At the end of the match, both players headed straight to the sidelines and shook hands only with the umpire.

The move has been welcomed by Svitolina, after a series of instances in which players on both sides have been unfairly booed by the crowd following no handshake at the ends of matches between Russian or Belarusian players and their Ukrainian opponents.

“I asked for the WTA to respect the decision of Ukrainians and they did,” Svitolina said, adding that she believed it was “the right thing” to announce that there would be no handshake.

Rematch of Wimbledon thriller for Svitolina and Azarenka

The match between the current world No 27 and Victoria Azarenka came just three weeks after their pulsating encounter in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

Following the conclusion of that match, Azarenka was mistakenly booed by some sections of the Court One crowd after she was incorrectly deemed to have snubbed a handshake with Svitolina.

Azarenka said after that match that she was only respecting Svitolina’s decision by not doing so.

The Ukrainian was also booed by the Parisian crowd at Roland-Garros, after not shaking hands with Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka. This was despite the fact that the intention not to shake hands with Belarusian and Russian players had been made clear by all Ukrainian players.

Given that there were no boos at the conclusion of this first round match in the US capital, the announcement will likely be welcomed by players on all sides of the issue.

“We just move on. We play a tennis match”

However, Azarenka said after the match that the decision to make an announcement regarding no handshake has come “18 months too late.”

“We just move on. We play a tennis match. As I said in Wimbledon, I accept, respect somebody’s position. That’s it.”

Nevertheless, at the end of a topsy-turvy affair in which both players struggled to hold serve, there were no crowd controversies that have overshadowed other matches between players of these nations.

It remains to be seen whether this policy will be implemented in other North American hoard-court tournaments this summer, but may have to be in use again soon as Svitolina is due to take on Daria Kasatkina in the last 16.

People in this post

Your comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *