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Determined Svitolina notches emotional win for Ukraine in Monterrey

The Ukrainian was playing with purpose in Monterrey, where every dollar she earns will go to the Ukrainian armed forces

Elina Svitolina, Monterrey 2022 Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in Monterrey © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

After her straight-sets victory over Anastasia Potapova on Tuesday night in Monterrey, Mexico (6-2, 6-1), Elina Svitolina raised a triumphant fist in the air to show the world what we already know about the strong-willed Ukrainian: she’s a fighter, through and through. 

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began, we’ve learned that Svitolina and the Ukrainian people have everything in common; and in the current devastating moment, as the country is under siege from Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the 27-year-old brilliantly demonstrated what it means to be Ukrainian – defiant, resilient and proud – as she wore the nation’s colours and performed superbly to defeat Potapova in 62 minutes. 

Svitolina: “I’m on a mission for my country” 

It was clear that Svitolina’s mind was far from tennis as she stood at the microphone and addressed the crowd while fighting back tears. 

“I was on a mission for my country,” she said. “From the beginning, it was important to be ready for anything that comes my way.”

Svitolina could not mask her sadness about the current state of events, however. 

“I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here,” the teary-eyed world No 15 said before telling the crowd that she planned to donate every dollar of prize money earned this week to the Ukrainian army. “It’s a very special event, this one, for me. All the money that I’m going to earn here is going to the Ukrainian army.”

Potapova – no Russian flag by her name 

On Monday Svitolina announced that she would not play against any player from Russia or Belarus until the sport’s governing bodies took action against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I believe the current situation requires a clear position from our organizations: ATP, WTA and ITF,” Svitolina wrote on Instagram. “As such we-Ukrainian players-requested to ATP, WTA and ITF to follow the recommendations of the IOC to accept Russian or Belarusian nationals only as neutral athletes, without displaying any national symbols, colors, flags or anthems.”

I’m very proud of the Ukrainians, they are really heroes. I wish everything is going to finish soon.

Dayana Yastremska

On Tuesday the International Tennis Federation, ATP Tour and WTA Tour put out a joint statement condemning Russia: “At this time, players from Russia and Belarus will continue to be allowed to compete in international tennis events on Tour and at the Grand Slams. However, they will not compete under the name or flag of Russia or Belarus until further notice,” the statement read. 

Yastremska also scores an emotional win

Svitolina wasn’t the only Ukrainian tennis player out on the court inspiring others on Tuesday. Dayana Yastremska, who fled Ukraine with her 15-year-old sister Ivanna just four days ago, took the court in Lyon and saved two match points in a dramatic victory over Romania’s Ana Bogdan. 

After clinching victory Yastremska had a long, heartfelt discussion with Bogdan at the net, before she donned the Ukrainian flag and told the crowd: “My heart stays at home and my mind is fighting here. It’s very difficult to find the concentration and to find the balance, and everything – this win compared to what is going on in my country is nothing, but I’m happy at least I’m also fighting for my country. 

“I’m very proud of the Ukrainians, they are really heroes. I wish everything is going to finish soon.”

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