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Home ยป Qualifier Yastremska Reaches Australian Open Semis

Qualifier Yastremska Reaches Australian Open Semis

Dayana Yastremska says it is her “mission” to show pride in her home country of Ukraine after becoming the first qualifier since 1978 to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Yastremska breezed past Czech teenager Linda Noskova 6-3 6-4 in just 78 minutes and will face China’s Zheng Qiwen for a place in Saturday’s final.

She wrote a message of support for Ukrainian fighters on the camera lens, amid the ongoing Russian invasion.

“I’m very proud of them,” she said.

Both Zheng and Yastremska will be appearing in their first major semi-final, with Zheng having previously reached the US Open quarter-finals last year.

The 12th seed fought back to beat Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-1 in the night session on Rod Laver Arena.

Yastremska is the second qualifier in the Open era to reach the Melbourne Park last four after Christine Dorey in the 1978 tournament.

She dedicated her win to her country, saying: “I think it’s my mission here. I’m just trying to give the signal to Ukraine that I’m really proud of it.”

“They really deserve huge respect. I always try to write something for Ukraine, about Ukraine.”

Yastremska is two wins away from emulating Briton Emma Raducanu, who became the only qualifier to win a major title with her 2021 US Open triumph.

She was a highly rated prospect as a teenager, having risen to inside the world’s top 25 as a 19-year-old before being given a provisional ban for a failed doping test in January 2021.

Yastremska denied any wrongdoing and the suspension was lifted after six months, with an independent tribunal accepting her positive test was the result of contamination.

She has beaten Grand Slam champions Marketa Vondrousova and Victoria Azarenka on her way to the last four.

Having needed three sets to come through her three qualifying matches, Yastremska has dropped just one set in her five main-draw encounters.

“I think it’s nice to make history because at that time [of Dorey’s run in 1978] I wasn’t born,” she added.

“I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time tired. I think I was a little bit too emotional.

“Today before my match I got angry at the practice of my coach. But that’s fine, because I could put my emotions away.”

Zheng is the first Chinese player to reach the Australian Open women’s singles semi-finals since Li Na – who Zheng has cited as a major inspiration for her – won the title in 2014.

And in another moment of symmetry, this year’s final will be on the 10th anniversary of Li’s win, marking the last time a Chinese player won a major singles title.

Much like Yastremska, 21-year-old Zheng has been marked as a future Slam contender, having memorably taken world number one Iga Swiatek to three sets at the 2022 French Open.

She grew into the match against Kalinskaya, the two trading breaks in the first set before Kalinskaya took the tie-break as Zheng’s forehands missed their mark.

Kalinskaya faltered at 3-4 down in the second set and Zheng served out well, wrapping up the set with an ace before racing through the deciding set.

Zheng will move into the world’s top 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday, which she did not know about until it was mentioned in her post-match interview.

“Thanks for letting me know that. Nobody tells me anything!” she joked.

“That’s good news for me. Another motivation. Especially since last year at the Australian Open I said I want to be top 10 and one year later, I’m here.”