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    06 June 2023

    Controversy at French Open 2023 as Elina Svitolina faces backlash for defeat against Aryna Sabalenka in Paris

    Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Svitolina Accuses Sabalenka of Encouraging Fan Boos at French Open

    In a tense quarter-final match between Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka at the French Open, accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct have surfaced. Svitolina accused her opponent of encouraging fans to boo her after she waited for a handshake at the net following their match.

    Svitolina has not shaken hands with Russian opponents since Ukraine was invaded with support from Belarus. Before facing off against Sabalenka, she made it clear that she would again avoid shaking hands if faced with another Russian opponent.

    When asked if Sabalenka inflamed the boos with her actions, Svitolina replied, “I think so, unfortunately.” However, Sabalenka defended herself by stating that waiting for a handshake was just an instinctual reaction on her part.

    A Sour End to Dream Run

    The match ended on a sour note for 28-year-old Svitolina as second-seeded Sabalenka kept focus and reached the semi-finals by defeating her 6-4 6-4 on Paris clay. It was quite disappointing considering that it had been an impressive run for Svitolina up until this point – especially given that this is her first Grand Slam appearance since giving birth in October.

    Tensions Rise Between Two Nations

    The tension between these two players goes beyond just sportsmanship issues – their nations are currently on opposing sides of Russia’s war in Ukraine. The atmosphere during their quarter-final match was tense due to this political backdrop as they even avoided taking a pre-match photograph together.

    Sabalenka Continues to Impress

    Despite personal challenges and controversies surrounding her stance on the war, Sabalenka has been performing at her best in Paris. She won more matches than any other player on the WTA Tour this year and looks poised to potentially become the new world number one.

    The Mental Strain of War

    It’s important to note that Svitolina’s achievements are quite remarkable given not only her impressive return from having a daughter but also her mental strain due to the ongoing war back home in Ukraine. While she did beat Russian ninth seed Daria Kasatkina in the previous round, facing off against Australian Open champion Sabalenka was undoubtedly a tougher task.

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