Friday , May 13 2022

Russian anti-war messages ‘have no substance’

Ukraine tennis player Marta Kostyuk has taken a swipe at tennis authorities and Russian rivals, amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Following her emotional 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 victory over Ukrainian-born Belgian Maryna Zanevska in the first round at the Indian Wells WTA Masters, which saw her save two match points, Kostyuk had some choice words for some players, who she said are more inclined to complain about their difficulties withdrawing money than what is happening in Ukraine.

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Kostyuk pointed to the response of individual Russian players — such as Russia’s men’s world number one Daniil Medvedev — who are anti-war but won’t specifically condemn the actions of their nation.

“You cannot be neutral in this,” Kostyuk said. “These ‘no war’ statements — they hurt me because they have no substance.

“Seeing (Russian) players on-site really hurts me. And seeing them having the only problem not being able to transfer the money and stuff — that’s what they are talking about — this is unacceptable for me.

“What is very disappointing is that no Russian player came to see me. None have told me they’re sorry for what their country is doing to mine.

“One player messaged me, another chatted with me, but I didn’t hear any apologies, I didn’t hear anyone telling me they didn’t support what was going on. To me, that’s shocking.

“You don’t have to be involved in politics to behave like a human being. Everyone knows what’s going on. It hurts me. It hurts me every time I arrive at the stadium and see all these Russian players.”

Kostyuk also took aim tennis bosses for the measures they’ve taken in response to the war.

Despite the ATP and WTA tournaments being pulled from Moscow and Russia and Belarus players being barred from the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup team events, players from those countries can still compete at ATP and WTA tournaments and Grand Slam events, but they can’t compete under the name or flag of either country.

“I don’t agree with the action that has been taken,” Kostyuk said. “Look at the other sports, look at the big sports, what they did, that’s it,” she added, in reference to FIFA and UEFA suspending Russian national teams and clubs from international competitions.

Kostyuk, 19, admitted she had trouble being motivated to play and even considered pulling out of the match.

“Honestly, in the current mental state that I’m in, it was very tough to go on court,” she said. “I didn’t know what to expect from myself, I didn’t know what to expect from my body.

“When I woke up this morning I thought, ‘I’m not going to do it, I can’t win it’.

“I just tried to find a way. She was playing amazing, amazing tennis. My main goal was to fight and I fought. It was a tough comeback.

“Everyone is fighting how they fight. My job is playing tennis and this is the biggest way I can help in the current situation.”

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