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Tearful Yastremska loses in Lyon but wins hearts and respect

The Ukrainian could not finish her week with a win in her first final since losing to Ash Barty in Adelaide back in January 2020

Dayana Yastremska Dayana Yastremska (Panoramic)

Dayana Yastremska may have lost the Lyon final to Zhang Shuai, but she has gained a flock of new fans and amassed a huge amount of respect.

Even those not interested in tennis would have read about the 21-year-old’s ordeal over the last week as she left her father and mother behind at their insistence as Russia invaded their homeland Ukraine. Together with her 15-year-old sister Ivanna, she headed for France, where she got a wildcard for the Open 6e Sens Métropole de Lyon.

She might have needed three sets to get past Ana Bogdan in the first round, but after that she dismissed two seeds in Jasmine Paolini and then Sorana Cirstea in the semi-final, with a straight-sets win against Cristina Bucsa in there as well for good measure.

Surely Yastremska’s resilience can never again be doubted.

In the final, against a tough opponent – the top seed, no less – she kept her concentration during the decider, getting the first break in the third set, but Zhang simply would not be denied, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Yastremska – I’m fighting for myself and for my country

Yastremska was in tears at the end after a massively emotional week. Holding her bouquet and runner-up trophy, she was congratulated and consoled by the tournament officials, and applauded by her opponent. With understatement, she took the microphone and told the crowd: “It’s been a really tough week for me.”

Choking back sobs, she added: “All this week I have been fighting here on court, not just for myself, but for my country.”

Dayana Yastremska
Dayana Yastremska (Panoramic)

Revealing that like compatriot Elina Svitolina she will be donating her prize money to Ukrainian humanitarian causes, she spoke to her countrypeople, saying: “If Ukrainian people are watching me, I want to say you guys are so strong, you have an amazing spirit, and I tried to fight for Ukraine.

“I want to say thanks to every single person in Ukraine for standing by Ukraine, and showing the people we have a really strong spirit. Slava Ukraine [glory to Ukraine]!”

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