Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk wins her first WTA Tour title in Texas, defeating Russia’s Varvara Gracheva
Marta Kostyuk won her first WTA title of her career at the age of 20 by defeating Russia’s Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 7-5 in the ATX Open final, then dedicating the win to her home country Ukraine.
Eighth-seeded Kostyuk and unseeded Gracheva, a 22-year-old, failed to score at net for the traditional post-game handshake.
Kostyuk said she will not do so after facing opponents from Russia, which began invading Ukraine more than a year ago, or from Belarus, which helped launch the attack on her homeland.
Most of Kostyuk’s family lives in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev while she travels from tournament to tournament.
“In the position I’m in right now, winning this title is very special,” Kostyuk said during the awards ceremony at the inaugural edition of the hard-court tournament in the Texas capital, “and I want to dedicate this title to Ukraine and to all people [who] fight and die right now”.
When Gracheva sailed a forehand after an hour and a half to end the match Sunday local time, Kostyuk – who was down 5-3 in the second set and saved a set point at 5-4 – fell to her knees at the baseline as she laid her hands on her her face and sobbed.
“Obviously,” said Kostyuk, the junior champion at the 2017 Australian Open, “it’s a very special moment, no matter when it happens.”
“I said at the draw ceremony that this feels like a home tournament [for me] here, and a lot of people came here and supported me.”
Both players entered a tour-level title fight for the first time, hitting 13 served breaks together – eight by Kostyuk – and 14 double faults. Both won less than 50 percent of the points on serve.
There were only two aces, both from Gracheva, including one that gave her a set point of 5-4, 40-30. However, she missed that chance to force a third set by pushing a forehand wide.
The 88th-ranked Gracheva – who eliminated number one Magda Linette and 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens earlier in the tournament – netted another forehand to set a break point.
Kostyuk converted it by ending a 16-shot exchange with a forehand volley winner.
Kostyuk came into the day in 52nd place and then held 6-5 with the help of a concealed serve before capping a four-game match-closing run with another break.
She is the third and first-time champion of the women’s tour in 2023.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-03-06/i-want-to-dedicate-this-title-to-ukraine-marta-kostyuk-wta-title/102057942 Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk wins her first WTA Tour title in Texas, defeating Russia’s Varvara Gracheva