Anhelina Kalinina is into the first WTA 1000 final of her career but the Ukrainian refused to shake the hand of Russian opponent Veronika Kudermetova after a hard-fought match at the Italian Open.
Kalinina held her nerve after being taken to a decider to record a 7-5 5-7 6-2 victory in two hours and 51 minutes over the 11th seed and will next face Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in the showpiece.
The 30th seed snubbed Kudermetova at the net in the latest example of a Ukrainian tennis player shunning post-match tradition towards a Russian because of the ongoing conflict between the countries.
“We didn’t shake hands because the girl is from Russia basically,” Kalinina said. “It’s no secret why I didn’t shake, because this country actually attacks Ukraine.
“This is sport, I understand, but it’s also kind of politician thing. It is nothing personal. But in general, yes, it’s not acceptable.”
Wimbledon champion Rybakina beat Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-4 in a rain-interrupted match, battling back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to win five games on the spin.
“I’m happy to win,” Rybakina said. “It was a really tough day overall with all the rain delays. I came without any expectation because I knew the other years were really tough for me playing here.
“I’m just happy that I got so many matches now before the French Open.”