Marta Kostyuk wins maiden title, no handshake with Russian opponent as she dedicates trophy to Ukrainians

A delighted Marta Kostyuk

Marta Kostyuk joined the WTA Tour’s title winners’ circle on Sunday as she defeated Varvara Gracheva to win her maiden trophy and afterwards she dedicated the victory to the Ukrainians “who are fighting and dying right now”.

It has been an emotional past 12 months for Kostyuk and her fellow Ukrainians following Russia’s invasion of their country in February last year.

The 20-year-old has been one of the most vocal players in tennis when it comes to criticising the Russians and Belarusians on the ATP and WTA Tours for not speaking up against the as last year she claimed “they pretend like nothing is going on.

She has also struggled with injury in recent years, but on Sunday she put together a brilliant display to defeat fellow first-time finalist Gracheva 6-3, 7-5 in the inaugural ATX Open final in Texas.

The Ukrainian collapsed to the ground after the match and there was no traditional post-match handshake with her Russian opponent after the match – something she also did after she lost against Victoria Azarenka from Belarus at the US Open last year.

“Everyone who is in the stands and everyone who is watching, especially in Ukraine, I want to say ‘Slava Ukraini,'” Kostyuk said during the post-match trophy ceremony. Slava Ukraini translates to “Glory to Ukraine.”

“Being in the position that I’m in right now it’s extremely special to win this title. I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and all of the people who are fighting and dying right now.”

She added: “It is a special moment. I want to thank everyone who put this tournament on, it is not easy. You guys are unbelievable.”

There were eight breaks of serve in the opening set with Kostyuk’s single hold in game six the deciding factor while she broke three times in the second set, although Gracheva also broke once.

“Very surreal,” Kostyuk, who has climbed to a career-high of No 45 in the WTA Rankings after the win, said. “I was just playing match by match, and I think this is how you win tournaments, I guess!

“It’s not so easy to talk right now, but obviously I’m extremely happy. I’m just happy to be healthy and happy to play tennis and see the crowd enjoy my game.”