Svitolina opened her campaign in Mexico with an emphatic 2-0 win over Potapova. A win seen as a tribute to her motherland. The Ukrainian had earlier released a statement saying she had no interest in sharing the court with Russian and Belarusian players unless neutral. The International Tennis Federation said it will not stop Russian and Belarusian players from competing. Instead, using the country’s flag, anthem or symbols will be prohibited. 

She announced her decision to partake in the opening round of the tournament in an interview after the WTA took action in line with the IOC. Svitolina’s yellow and blue tennis outfit, which represents Ukraine, showed her strength and she never backed down.

“Today it was a very special match for me, I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here.” 

She broke Potapova’s serve in the first and third games of the first set. The 2020 champion kept the momentum up to earn three more breaks on her way to a 6-2, 6-1 victory in 64 minutes. Elina, 27, also made the decision to donate whatever prize money she wins to the Ukrainian army fighting the invasion. Up next for the top seed is Viktoriya Tomova.

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Fellow Ukrainian, Dayana Yastremska also put up a gritty performance to defeat Ana Bogdan in WTA 250 event in Lyon. The 21-year-old lost the first set with just three games to her name. She rallied back to win the next two sets 7-6, 7-6. This comes days after she and her younger sister left their parents to flee the war-torn country.