Elina Svitolina, aiming to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam quarter-finals since becoming a mother, is gearing up for an intense match against Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon on Sunday.
The Ukrainian tennis player acknowledges the added motivation stemming from the ongoing conflict in Ukraine when competing against opponents from countries supporting Russia’s invasion. Svitolina views these matches as distinct and meaningful, playing not only for herself but also for her country.
“This match holds a special significance for me,” Svitolina expressed. “With many Ukrainians watching and supporting me, I will channel my fighting spirit and give my all for every single point. It serves as a great motivation for me.”
Following the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Svitolina, like other Ukrainian players, has refrained from shaking hands with Belarusian or Russian opponents. Her previous encounter with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at the French Open resulted in misunderstanding, with Svitolina being booed by the crowd. She hopes for better understanding from the British spectators this time.
Azarenka, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has triumphed in all five of their past meetings. Last year, Azarenka and other Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon but have been allowed to participate this year as long as they refrain from showing support for their respective regimes or receiving funding from them.
Svitolina, who became a mother in October, is making her second appearance in a Grand Slam since giving birth. Her recent social media post about missing a Harry Styles concert in Vienna due to Wimbledon suggests she has surpassed her initial expectations in the tournament.
Wimbledon is once again grappling with scheduling challenges due to rain disruptions on the outside courts on Saturday, with two third-round singles matches yet to be completed. American 10th seed Frances Tiafoe will conclude his interrupted match against Grigor Dimitrov, while the all-Russian encounter between Mirra Andreeva and Anastasia Potapova is yet to begin.
Meanwhile, defending champion Novak Djokovic, who has managed to play all his matches on the designated days, anticipates a formidable test against Polish 17th seed Hubert Hurkacz. Djokovic acknowledges Hurkacz’s impressive run without dropping a set and his prowess on grass, recalling Hurkacz’s victory over Roger Federer in 2021. Djokovic acknowledges the need to be at his best to secure a win.
On the women’s side, top seed Iga Swiatek, unbeaten in straight sets so far, prepares to face Swiss 14th seed Belinda Bencic on Centre Court. Swiatek, seeking her fifth Grand Slam title, reflects on last year’s Wimbledon disappointment and emphasizes her current state of relaxation, having already achieved her season’s goal with a French Open victory.
Fourth seed Jessica Pegula, who withdrew from mixed doubles due to a back injury, will also be in action on Sunday.
Wimbledon introduced scheduled play on the middle Sunday for the first time last year, deviating from the traditional rest day to accommodate catch-up matches in case of rain delays. This year, it will serve the same purpose as two third-round matches are yet to be completed.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Wimbledon rivalry
What is Elina Svitolina’s motivation for her match against Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon?
Elina Svitolina’s motivation for her match against Victoria Azarenka at Wimbledon stems from the ongoing war in Ukraine. Matches against players from countries supporting Russia’s invasion hold a special significance for Svitolina, who sees them as an opportunity to represent her country and show her fighting spirit.
Why has Elina Svitolina not shaken hands with Belarusian or Russian opponents?
Following the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Elina Svitolina, along with other Ukrainian players, has refrained from shaking hands with Belarusian or Russian opponents. This action is a personal stance against the countries backing Russia’s invasion and shows support for her homeland.
How has Elina Svitolina’s previous encounter with Aryna Sabalenka caused misunderstanding?
During their match at the French Open, Elina Svitolina faced boos from the crowd at the end of her defeat to Aryna Sabalenka. Svitolina accused her opponent of encouraging the fans’ reaction by waiting at the net for a handshake. The incident resulted in misunderstanding and Svitolina hopes for better understanding from the British crowd at Wimbledon.
Why were some Russian and Belarusian players banned from Wimbledon last year?
Some Russian and Belarusian players were banned from Wimbledon last year due to the political situations in their respective countries. However, this year they have been allowed to participate as long as they do not show support for or receive funding from their regimes.
How has Elina Svitolina’s schedule at Wimbledon affected her plans?
Elina Svitolina’s schedule at Wimbledon has exceeded her expectations, as indicated by her social media post about missing a Harry Styles concert in Vienna. Her progress in the tournament suggests that she has gone further than anticipated and is unable to attend the concert due to her commitments at Wimbledon.