Ukrainian wildcard Dayana Yastremska, who was forced to flee her home after Russia’s invasion last week, reached the WTA Lyon Open final after defeating No. 2 seed Sorana Cirstea 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4 on Saturday.
She will face No. 8 seed Zhang Shuai in the final on Sunday.
Yastremska, 21, spent two nights in an underground car park last week along with her younger sister Ivanna before their parents sent them out of Ukraine by boat to Romania and then on to France, where the tournament is being held.
« It was a really tough match, » Yastremska said, according to WTA Tennis. « In the third set, when I had match points and I lost that game, I was a bit crazy. I thought, I’m done, I’ve lost, because I don’t have any more power. And then everybody was supporting me, supporting me, and I felt like, you can do it.
« When I posted pictures on Instagram that I left my home, I got a lot of messages from French people and from all over the world. But when I arrived here, I didn’t expect I would get that huge support. »
Yastremska said that she hasn’t been getting a lot of sleep while reading news about what’s happening in Ukraine but added that her spirit is still « pretty strong right now. »
« I’m Ukrainian, and Ukrainian people are very strong, » she said. « You can see that now during the war. Maybe I’m also strong.
« Every win from now on goes to my country. Compared to what’s going on, it has no big meaning. »
A former world No. 21, Yastremska has three career WTA titles.
Reuters contributed to this story.