Ukrainians have war on mind during first-round Wimbledon wins

AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell

WIMBLEDON, England – It’s tough to keep one’s mind focused on tennis when a family’s home in Ukraine is being bombed.

Anhelina Kalinina and Lesia Tsurenko did just that at Wimbledon, winning their opening matches at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament to set up a second-round meeting between the two.

“Thank God they are alive, they are safe,” Kalinina said of her family, explaining that their home was destroyed in a Russian attack during the war. “But they live like many other Ukrainians, (from their) bags, so you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow because everything looks like sometimes quiet. But then yesterday was two rockets in Kyiv, in the center.”

The 29th-seeded Kalinina advanced to the second round by beating Anna Bondar 4-6, 6-2, 6-4. Tsurenko defeated British wild-card entry Jodie Burrage 6-2, 6-3.

“I don’t feel good,” said Tsurenko, who is worried because her home in the capital is close to a spot that’s been under attack. “So every time is like my area, my area of the city where I live, get bombed … I think when the war started, I start to feel this tension inside of me, and I think even if I work every day with psychologist and I try to, I don’t know, anyway, try to avoid this emotions, it’s impossible.”

Both players won’t have to face Russian or Belarusian opponents, because athletes from those countries have been banned from competing at Wimbledon this year. As a result of that decision, no ranking points will be awarded to players during the tournament.

“I was not really happy with that decision,” Tsurenko said, though she added that she agreed with the ban. “I think that the sanctions and all the sportsmen getting banned from sport from Russia and Belarus, there is a big reason for that … I think that those decisions are right and the sanctions are right.”

Kalinina said it wasn’t fair to consider the issue of ranking points when talking about a war.

“We can’t compare WTA points, we cannot compare this ban of these players to what’s going on currently in Ukraine,” Kalinina said. “We cannot compare this what they are now missing and how many millions of people are killed, still dying, and how many refugees are brought and surviving, with mothers with their kids, people are out of money, out of family, out of their jobs.

“They don’t have anything. They are like homeless.”

At the French Open, Tsurenko lamented the fact that more of her fellow players weren’t coming out in support of Ukraine. But she and Kalinina have been getting plenty of support from the crowd.

One of these two will reach the third round, and they plan to talk about what they can do in their match to bring some more recognition to their country.

“We’ll see,” Kalinina said. “We will discuss.”

Elena Rybakina hits 10 aces in Miami for 12th straight win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina extended her winning streak to 12 matches by delivering 10 aces – her fourth consecutive outing with at least that many – in a 6-3, 6-0 victory over 25th-seeded Martina Trevisan in the Miami Open quarterfinals.

Rybakina has 46 aces through four matches at the hard-court tournament in Florida and a WTA-leading 201 this season.

The 23-year-old, who represents Kazakhstan, improved to 20-4 in 2023, including a run to the Australian Open final in January and a title at Indian Wells, California, last week.

She is trying to become only the fifth player to win the women’s trophies at Indian Wells and Miami in the same season. Top-ranked Iga Swiatek did it a year ago; she withdrew from Miami this time because of a rib injury.

“Of course it would be amazing to achieve something like that,” the 10th-seeded Rybakina said about the prospect of completing what’s known as the Sunshine Double, “but it’s still far away.”

So far in Rybakina’s career, 13 of her 18 semifinal appearances have come on hard courts. She will face No. 3 Jessica Pegula for a berth in the final after the American fought off two match points and outlasted No. 27 Anastasia Potapova 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a match that ended just before 1:30 a.m. after play had been delayed by rain.

“I haven’t been that physically tired in just a really long time,” Pegula said. “Just the humidity was taking so much out of me, and I haven’t been able to play in humidity like that in a while. It was just really tough, so really, it was just pure will.”

Trevisan reached the French Open semifinals in 2022.

In fourth-round men’s action Tuesday, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was beaten 7-6 (4), 6-4 by No. 14 Karen Khachanov, while defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner all beat seeded opponents in straight sets.

Alcaraz, who returned to No. 1 in the ATP rankings last week, got past Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to set up a meeting against Fritz, the top-ranked American man and seeded ninth in Miami.

Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune. That put Fritz into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances in Miami – and his first matchup against Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain who won the U.S. Open in September for his first Grand Slam title.

“I’m really excited for it,” Fritz said. “I think that a lot of people are really excited for that, too.”

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 winner against No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp.

No. 4 Daniil Medvedev, forced to start late and off his scheduled court after the rain, beat Quentin Halys 6-4, 6-2. He will face American Christopher Eubanks, who edged Adrian Mannarino in a pair of tiebreakers.

Khachanov will play Francisco Cerundolo, a semifinalist in Miami last year, in the other men’s quarterfinal.

Fritz, Sinner reach Miami Open quarterfinals with 2-set wins

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Taylor Fritz and Jannik Sinner beat seeded opponents in straight sets at the Miami Open to move into the quarterfinals.

No. 9 Fritz compiled twice as many winners, 22, as unforced errors, 11, and only dropped serve once during a 6-3, 6-4 victory over No. 7 Holger Rune.

That put Fritz, the highest-ranked American man, into his first quarterfinal in seven appearances at the hard-court tournament.

He will face either No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz or Australian Open semifinalist Tommy Paul next. Alcaraz is the defending champion in Miami.

No. 10 Sinner eliminated No. 6 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 and has yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Sinner’s next opponent will be No. 26 Botic van de Zandschulp or unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori.