Ukraine’s Svitolina downs Potapova of Russia at WTA Monterrey

Published March 3, 2022
Ukraine´s tennis player Elina Svitolina (L) shakes hands with Russia´s Anastasia Potapova after beating her during their WTA Monterrey Open tournament tennis match in Monterrey, Mexico, on Monday. — AFP
Ukraine´s tennis player Elina Svitolina (L) shakes hands with Russia´s Anastasia Potapova after beating her during their WTA Monterrey Open tournament tennis match in Monterrey, Mexico, on Monday. — AFP

MONTERREY: Elina Svitolina put on the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 on Tuesday in the opening round of the Monterrey Open, deciding she could do more for her country by playing than boycotting the match.

Top-seeded Svitolina earlier said she wouldn’t play against Potapova in Mexico or against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours barred competitors from those countries using any national symbols, flags or anthems.

The tennis governing bodies issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that Russian and Belarusian players will still be allowed to compete at the top level, but without national flags.

“Today it was a very special match for me,” the 27-year-old Svitolina said. “I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here.

I was focused. 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 is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist with 16 career tour-level singles titles who has been ranked as high as number three and is currently 15th.

She thumped her chest repeatedly after wrapping up the win before shaking hands with Potapova.

“All the prize money that I’m going to earn is going to be for the Ukrainian army,” said Svitolina, who won this tournament in 2020. The Monterrey Open has $31,000 in prize money for the champion.

Svitolina, who broke serve in the first and third games on the way to a lopsided win over Potapova in 64 minutes, will play against Viktoriya Tomova in the second round.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2022

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