Sobbing Elina Svitolina drops out of Australian Open due to back injury

By Sports Desk January 22, 2024

A tearful Elina Svitolina was forced to retire with a back injury only three games into her fourth-round clash with Linda Noskova at the Australian Open.

The former world number three, who has made a very impressive return following the birth of daughter Skai last year, appeared the favourite to make the final from a wide open top half of the draw.

But her back locked up in the first game of the match and she sobbed as she called it a day trailing 3-0.

She said: “This one I think I never had that before, the shooting pain like this. I had some injuries to my back before where it just was tiredness the next day of the match, but this one was really out of nowhere. I felt like someone shot me in the back.”

Svitolina, who reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon last summer, did not want to think about what might have been, saying: “I cannot say that this was an open draw in a way.

“If you take other players, they are meant to be there. You have also in the other side of the draw very strong players who won slams and played really consistent throughout the year last year.

“So I don’t want to look this as a missed opportunity, especially right now when it was not about my tennis today.”

Having beaten Iga Swiatek in the third round, 19-year-old Noskova is now through to her first grand slam quarter-final, where she will take on another Ukrainian in Dayana Yastremska.

She saved two set points in the opening set and then came from 3-0 down in the second to beat two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (6) 6-4, powering 38 winners.

Yastremska was ranked as high as 21 in 2020 but had not won a slam match since serving a provisional doping suspension the following year and had to come through qualifying here.

The 23-year-old tested positive for the synthetic testosterone mesterolone and missed nearly six months of competition before it was decided she bore no fault or negligence and was therefore free to compete again.

Yastremska is the second Ukrainian through to the last eight after Marta Kostyuk, and Svitolina will be cheering on her countrywomen.

“Of course I’ve been following that we all have been playing really well,” she said. “At the beginning of the tournament, seven Ukrainians in the main draw, and going that far so many of us, it’s nice in the second week as well.

“It’s great for Ukrainian tennis. Of course, now I feel very old because of my health, but I’m happy that they are doing great. It’s great for Ukrainian tennis. It’s great for the upcoming generation as well, especially now these days when Ukraine is in such a tough time.”

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