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Ukrainian star booed as she snubs Aryna Sabalenka handshake in early French Open drama



Marta Kostyuk caused a stir in her French Open first round tie against Aryna Sabalenka after snubbing her in the post-match handshake. Boos rang out from the crowd as the Ukrainian star walked off court without acknowledging her Belarusian opponent following her defeat in what proved to be a dramatic start to the first day of Roland Garros on Sunday.

Sabalenka eased past Kostuk with a 6-3 6-2 victory in one of the first matches to be played at this year’s Grand Slam in Paris, and the match had generated huge anticipation due to the political connotations involved with a Ukraine and Belarus player going head to head.

And Kostyuk was sure to make her statement by refusing to shake hands with Sabalenka after the match finished.
The post-match embrace is traditional amongst professional tennis players, but the 20-year-old was in no mood to hang around for the world No 2 at the net.

Booes rang out around Court Phillip-Chatrier as the Ukrainian thanked the umpire and walked straight to her chair – and Sabalenka looked confused over the target of the crowd’s anger and made a sarcastic bow.

The Australian Open champion then seemed to seek clarification from her entourage and she then walked back out into the court to accept loud applause.
And when Kostyuk then walked off to more jeers and boos, it became clear the French crowd disapproved of her political gesture.

In her courtside interview, Sabalenka said: “It was a very tough match, I mean tough emotionally. I’m sorry guys, I didn’t get it at first, I thought this booing was against me so I was a little surprised. But then I felt your support, so thank you so much.

Asked about the war before the first-round match, Australian Open champion Sabalenka stated: “If I could, I would stop it.”

But asked about the personal ill-feeling from Kostyuk before their first meeting since the war, world No.2 added: “I don’t want to waste my energy on this kind of stuff. It’s none of my business. So if she hates me, OK. I can’t do anything about that.

“There are going to be people who love me; there are going to be people who hate me. If she hates me, I don’t feel anything like that to her.”

Sabalenka can end Iga Swiatek’s 62nd-week run as world No.1 by winning the title in Paris – or if the Pole goes out before the quarter-finals.

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