Saturday, November 26, 2022

Russia-Ukraine war: Dayana Yastremska will donate Lyon Open earnings to help war victims at home

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Dayana Yastremska fled war-torn Ukraine to Romania and then to France to play in the Lyon Open earlier this week and on Sunday she was narrowly defeated by Zhang Shuai 6-3, 3-6, 4-6.

It was Yastremska’s first final since losing to Ash Barty in the 2020 Adelaide International. She rode a wave of perseverance to get past Ana Bogdan, Cristina Bucșa, Jasmine Paolini and Sorana Cîrstea to get to Zhang before her run finally came to an end.

Draped in the Ukrainian flag while getting choked up trying to hold back tears, Yastremska said the week had been “really tough.”

Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, wrapped in the Ukrainian national flag, reacts at the end of the WTA 6eme Sens Open semi-final tennis match against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in Lyon, on March 5, 2022.
(OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

“All this week I’ve been fighting here in court not just for myself but for my country and … I’m very happy still with the finals because it’s been a long time since I have played in the finals, and today I think didn’t have enough emotion and was pretty tired,” she said. “But the crowd here and these people and since I’ve just arrived here it’s been amazing. Everybody was supporting me a lot and I felt so much power from the people here and thanks to the tournament director for the wild card, thank you for the opportunity.”

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She revealed to Bild last week the path that led her to France. She said she started to hear bombs near Odessa, Ukraine, on Feb. 23 and on Feb. 24 her father made the decision that she and her sister needed to leave the country as Russian forces began to invade.

Yastremska said they traveled to Izmail near the Romanian border and took a boat to get across the river to Romania.

Lyon Open

FILE - Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine plays a backhand return to Madison Brengle of the U.S. during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 17, 2022.

FILE – Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine plays a backhand return to Madison Brengle of the U.S. during their first round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 17, 2022.
(AP Photo/Simon Baker, file)

Yastremska entered the French tournament as a wild card.

She beat Bogdan 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 7-6 (9-7) to advance to the next round.

In the round of 16, Yastremska picked up a straight-set victory against qualifier Bucșa 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinal round and a tough opponent. Paolini was the No. 5 seed in the event with more than 270 wins as a singles player. However, Yastremska again showed no fear and upset Paolini 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).

Cîrstea, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, and Yastremska had a back-and-forth match on Saturday.

DAYANA YASTREMSKA REACHES LYON OPEN SEMIS AFTER BARELY ESCAPING WAR

Yastremska needed to get to a tie break in the first set. She won the first set 7-6 (7-5) but lost the second 4-6. Yastremska defeated Cîrstea in the final set 6-4. Yastremska managed to win despite seven double faults. She was 5-for-9 on break points.

The 21-year-old got to her first final since 2020 and ran into Zhang, the eighth seed from China. Yastremska won the first set 6-3, but the magic ran out as Zhang came back in the second and third sets to win the match.

Helping her home

Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska, wrapped in the Ukrainian national flag, reacts at the end of the WTA 6eme Sens Open semi-final tennis match against Romania's Sorana Cirstea in Lyon, on March 5, 2022.

Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, wrapped in the Ukrainian national flag, reacts at the end of the WTA 6eme Sens Open semi-final tennis match against Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in Lyon, on March 5, 2022.
(OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Yastremska told the crowd in Lyon that she was going to donate her earnings from the Lyon Open to those in Ukraine affected by the war.

“The prize money I’ve earned here, I’m going to give to the Ukrainian foundation to support the Ukraine. And if the Ukrainian people are watching me, I want to say you guys are so strong,” she said. “You have an amazing spirit and I tried to fight for Ukraine and I want to say thanks to every single person from Ukraine for standing by the Ukraine and showing the people we have a really strong spirit.”

The runner-up for the Lyon Open gets about $18,036.

Wanting to win

Yastremska addressed fans on social media after her loss to Zhang and thanked them for their support.

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“My beloved Ukraine, I really wanted to win this one for you!!” she tweeted. “I gave my absolute best throughout this week because that’s what Ukrainians do! Thank you for all the support I received this week, it means the world to me. I am forever grateful!”



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