Belarusian tennis star Victoria Azarenka tried to duck a question about playing a Ukrainian tennis player before shutting down a persistent reporter.
On Monday, two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka took on 23-year-old Yastremska in the round-of-16 at Melbourne Park. Azarenka, 34, was given the edge before the match because of her experience and past success in Melbourne but 93rd-ranked Yastremska delivered a big performance to upset the former world No. 1 7-6 (6) 6-4.
Since Ukrainian players haven’t been shaking hands with Russian and Belarusian players for nearly the past two years, Azarenka didn’t get her hand shaken by Yastremska following the match. Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian tennis players have been pretty openly admitting that it “not just another match” for them when they play a Russian or a Belarusian player.
“Did you have any additional pressure because the opponent was Ukrainian? How do you feel about the atmosphere of the fans?” the question that Azarenka received read.
Answering the question, Azarenka never really addressed if she felt any additional pressure because she was playing a Ukrainian player.
“The atmosphere was good. I always enjoy playing in Australia. I think it was great. The stadium is always fun. I always have so much support here,” Azarenka said.
Azarenka shuts down a reporter: Next question
But the reporter was persistent, asking Azarenka: “How about the pressure? Did you feel any additional pressure because the opponent is Ukrainian?”
Azarenka then made it pretty clear she wasn’t interested in answering the question, bluntly saying: “Next.”
For Azarenka, it was certainly very disappointing to lose the first set against Yastremska, having led 5-3. In the first-set tie-break, Azarenka also had a 5-4 lead and two serves before losing four of the next five points and dropping the opener.
Azarenka was also up in the second set, having opened an early 3-0 lead. But Azarenka once failed to materialize on her lead as she lost six of the next seven games as Yastremska went on to complete a two-set win.