Anhelina Kalinina blows a kiss after beating Veronika Kudermetova during the semifinal match in Rome, Italy, on Friday. AP
Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina beat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 at the Italian Open on Friday to reach the biggest final of her career — and dedicated the victory to her war-torn country.
The half-filled Campo Centrale supported Kalinina, whose family home was destroyed in a Russian attack last year. Some fans held up Ukrainian flags.
"It’s really important to win every match, because of what Ukraine goes through,” Kalinina told the crowd. "I really hope that I give a tiny, small light, maybe some positive emotions for my country. I really hope that Ukraine a little bit enjoys (this).”
Veronika Kudermetova wipes her forehead during her semifinals match against Anhelina Kalinina. AFP
She and Kudermetova did not shake hands after the semifinal, which lasted nearly three hours.
Kudermetova was asked if she gets along with Kalinina while their countries are at war: "We’re here, and we love what we do here. Doesn’t matter from which country you are. We’re athletes and that’s it. We are here to play tennis.”
It's been quite a run for the 47th-ranked Kalinina, who was coming off the longest match on the women’s circuit this season - a 3-hour, 41-minute victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarterfinals.
A young woman lifts the Ukrainian flag during the semifinal match in Rome on Friday. AP
Kalinina also eliminated former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the third round and got by Madison Keys, another established American, in the fourth round.
Rome is the last big warm-up before Roland Garros starts in nine days.
The men’s semi-finals on Saturday feature Holger Rune against Casper Ruud, and Stefanos Tsitsipas against Daniil Medvedev.
After winning the match, the Serbian star said, it was more than a battle. Brerettini is a true Italian hammer I felt it on my skin. It means none of us three will stop. Roger and Rafa are legends they are the reason I am where I am today, said Djokovic.
"This is probably the coldest, wettest tournament I've ever played here in Rome," the 22-time Grand Slam winner said. "I don't recall so many days in a row (of) raining. In these conditions, it's very difficult to get the ball past him..."
World ranked 139 Tauson saw off Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1 to guarantee a top 100 debut on Monday. Tauson was playing in just her third main draw and with Sunday's win confirmed her status as one of the sport's in-form players.
"After two seasons in the French capital, Leo Messi’s adventure with Paris St Germain will come to an end at the conclusion of the 2022-23 campaign," PSG said in a statement.
The event featured a diverse group of emerging talents and classified athletes from prestigious clubs and academies giving excellent performances eyed enticing prizes worth more than Dhs1 million.
The four Emirati players, Abdullah Ahli, Abdullah Abdulaziz Abdullah, Fares Aljanahi and Salem Alhouli, will join a distinct team in the unique global championship.
Top-seed GM Yu Yangyi of China scored an emphatic win in Friday night’s seventh round to grab a share of the lead with defending champion GM Aravindh Chithambaram of India, who continued to struggle pulling the trigger in another promising position. Yu and Chithambaram now have 5.5 points from seven games,