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Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko handshake refusal amplifies grudge

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aryna sabalenka vs lesia tsurenko handshake
Lesia Tsurenko and Aryna Sabalenka. Photo/Hindustan Times
  • Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko handshake refusal drama isn’t about to end
  • Sabalenka met Tsurenko once again in her third round match in Melbourne
  • Tsurenko refused to shake her hand once more

Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko handshake refusal drama isn’t about to end with yet another scene at the Australian Open 2024.

Sabalenka met Tsurenko once again in her third round match in Melbourne on Friday and caused a stir. Not just because of the fact that she is a defending Australian Open but a creeping ‘animosity’ fueled by Tsurenko.

What is it About Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko Handshake?

For the second time Tsurenko refused to shake Sabalenka’s hand but the Belarusian tennis star appeared unbothered by all this.

Sabalenka dominated the match against Tsurenko winning comprehensively in straight sets 6-0 6-0 in just 52 minutes. It was one of the most intriguing matches at Rod Laver Arena since the Grand Slam event started a week ago.

The former world No 1 advanced to the fourth round of the tournament with her victory over the Ukrainian player.

aryna sabalenka vs lesia tsurenko handshake

Aryna Sabalenka. Photo/Sportstar-The Hindu

With three victories, Sabalenka advanced to the fourth round, having conceded only six games in total. However, her triumph over Tsurenko concluded on an unexpected note where the Ukrainian refused to shake her hand at the end of the match as it is tradition.

Why Did Lesia Tsurenko Refuse to Handshake Aryna Sabalenka?

Tsurenko’s bad blood with Sabalenka stems from the Russia-Ukraine war back in February 2022. Belarus aided Russia in invading Ukraine and this put a strain on the Ukraine-Belarus relationship.

It was not the first time that this happened and world No. 2 was unbothered saying she is now used to it.

“This situation has been happening for a long time on tour and I understand and respect everyone’s position,” Sabalenka stated in an on-court interview following her match with Tsurenko.

However, she praised her for being respectful despite not wanting a handshake.

“She was quite respectful. She said, ‘great play’. She didn’t shake my hand, but she was respectful to me, so I appreciate that,” Sabalenka noted.

In response to why she did not shake Sabalenka’s hand, she explained that it only takes one to be Ukrainian to understand why.

Although she did not mention the Russia-Ukraine war, Tsurenko was obviously alluding to the pain her people go through due to the invasion by Russia.

This partly happened because Belarus aided Russia to attack Ukraine.

“This is very tough to explain, you just have to feel what I feel and you will not have these questions for me,” Tsurenko responded. She added that she is at a point in life where she does not care about things like a handshake.

All she wants is to use her tennis career to remind the world that Ukraine is still grappling with the effects of war wage on it by Russia.

“I feel like so many things that were so important for me are not important any more, like a tennis match I don’t feel like I really care about how I finish the match, what is the score.

aryna sabalenka vs lesia tsurenko handshake

Aryna Sabalenka vs Lesia Tsurenko. Photo/Khel

I care more about the fact I can be here and I can remind the world that the war is still on, I care about the fact that I can earn some money and I can donate and I can help other people,” she stated unapologetically.

Meanwhile, Sabalenka expresses her satisfaction in emulating the consistent bagel-serving performance of world No. 1 Iga Swiatek. Swiatek achieved the feat of winning sets 6-0 on more than 20 occasions in both 2022 and 2023.

Will Aryna Sabalenka Win Australian Open 2024?

Reflecting on this, Sabalenka stated, “Last year Iga won so many sets 6-0, and one of my goals is trying to get closer to her. I’m super happy with the level I’m playing so far, and I’m just hoping I can keep going like that, or even better.”

As the second seed, Sabalenka is set to face Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round to book a spot in the quarter-final. This follows the American’s victory over former world No. 2 Paula Badosa with a two-set win 7-5, 6-4.

Anisimova, currently ranked 442nd in the world, is a former French Open semi-finalist who returned to the game at the beginning of this year after a hiatus.

Sabalenka acknowledges Anisimova is a formidable player and anticipates a challenging match on Sunday.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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