Alamy Stock Photo Sabalenka beat Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 on Sunday.
# Roland Garros
Sabalenka and Svitolina to meet in politically-charged French Open quarter-final
Sabalenka of Belarus will meet Svitolina of Ukraine in the Roland Garros quarter-finals on Tuesday.

ARYNA SABALENKA DEFEATED Sloane Stephens 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 on Sunday to reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time and then opted out of her media commitments for a second time.

The Belarusian second seed, who had not made it past the first week before this year at Roland Garros, will face Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in a politically-charged duel for a place in the last four.

It will be the pair’s third meeting but first since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Belarus is a key military ally of Moscow.

Svitolina has played two Russians so far at the tournament and has refused to shake hands with her opponents in protest at the war.

Sabalenka defeated Svitolina’s Ukraine compatriot Marta Kostyuk in the opening round.

Kostyuk’s decision also not to shake hands with her opponent brought her a chorus of jeers and boos from the Paris crowd.

Kostyuk said the spectators who jeered her should be “embarrassed”.

After beating Stephens, it was announced that for the second match in succession Sabalenka would not appear at her post-match news conference.

She boycotted her last scheduled press conference on Friday after defeating Kamilla Rakhimova in the third round.

She claimed she “did not feel safe” when previously questioned about the war in Ukraine and her relationship with Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko.

Earlier on Sunday, Svitolina, playing her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother, reached the quarter-finals for the fourth time.

The Ukrainian defeated Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) for a seventh win in seven meetings against the Russian who was a semi-finalist last year.

Despite not shaking hands, Kasatkina still gave her rival a friendly thumbs-up.

Svitolina said that she will still not shake the hand of Sabalenka when they meet on Tuesday.

“I have played last two matches against Russian players so it will not change, everything will be same,” she said.

“So I’m used to it now, it’s gonna be the same.”

– © AFP 2023

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