Elina Svitolina donned the yellow and blue colors of Ukraine and beat Anastasia Potapova of Russia 6-2, 6-1 today in the first round of the Monterrey Open, deciding she could do more for her country by playing than by boycotting the game.
Top seed Svitolina said earlier that she would not play against Potapova in Mexico or against Russian or Belarusian opponents until the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours ban competitors from those countries. to use national symbols, flags or anthems.
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Tennis governing bodies today issued a statement confirming that Russian and Belarusian players will still be allowed to compete at the highest level, but without national flags.
“Today was a very special match for me,” said 27-year-old Svitolina. “I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy to play tennis here.
“I was focused. I was on a mission for my country. From the start, it was important to be ready for whatever came my way.”
Svitolina is a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist with 16 career tour-level singles titles. She was ranked No. 3 and is currently No. 15.
“All the money I will earn will be for the Ukrainian army,” said Svitolina, who won this tournament in 2020.
The Monterrey Open has $42,000 in prize money for the champion.
Svitolina, who broke serve in the first and third games en route to a lopsided victory over Potapova on 64 minutes, will play against Viktoriya Tomova in the second round.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its sixth day today, with a huge convoy of Russian tanks and armored vehicles on a route to the capital, Kiev, and fighting intensifying there and in other major cities.
Russia bombed several key sites in Kyiv and the country’s second city, Kharkiv, killing at least 11 people and wounding dozens more, Ukrainian officials said.
In her social media post yesterday, Svitolina said her goal of demanding that tennis follow the lead of the International Olympic Committee and insist that players from Russia and Belarus only be identified as “neutral athletes “was not against individual competitors.
“I don’t blame any of the Russian athletes,” Svitolina wrote. “They are not responsible for invading our homeland.”
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