Thu, 21 Sep 2023

Aryna Sabalenka snubbed by foe after winning in Paris

Field Level Media
29 May 2023, 02:05 GMT+10

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka made short work of Marta Kostyuk at the French Open on Sunday, but that was not the talking point following the first-round match in Paris.

Sabalenka recorded 19 winners and benefited from 20 unforced errors by Kostyuk en route to notching a 6-3, 6-2 win in one hour, 11 minutes. The customary post-match handshake and pleasantries didn't come to pass, however, as Kostyuk -- who is from Ukraine -- elected against congratulating Sabalenka, who is from Belarus.

Ukraine is defending its homeland following an invasion by Russia, and Belarus is considered the latter's ally.

The fans in Paris booed the decision by Kostyuk, however.

"She (Sabalenka) never says that she personally doesn't support this war, and I feel like journalists should change the questions you ask these athletes because the war is already there," Kostyuk said.

"It's been 15 months since the war has begun."

Sabalenka said she understood Kostyuk's decision and was just happy to advance in the tournament. She moves on to the second round to face Belarus qualifier Iryna Shymanovich, who posted a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1 win over Panns Udvardy of Hungary.

"It was emotionally tough match, and I'm super happy that I get this win," Sabalenka said. "In the first games, things didn't work well for me, but I'm happy that I was able to get through this match."

Other winners included 28th-seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium, who breezed to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Slovakia's Viktoria Hruncakova.

No. 8 seed Maria Sakkari, No. 21 Magda Linette of Poland and No. 29 Shaui Zhang were not as fortunate. Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic posted a 7-6 (5), 7-5 win over Sakkari, Canada's Leylah Fernandez secured a 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Linette and Poland's Magdalena Frech cruised to a 6-1, 6-1 win over Zhang.

--Field Level Media

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