Ukrainian teen steals the limelight at Aussie Open

Ukrainian teen Marta Kostyuk has surprised the tennis world in Melbourne.
Ukrainian teen Marta Kostyuk has surprised the tennis world in Melbourne. Photo credit: Getty

If the rule for the previous days had been short of drama and short matches, then the start of the second round took except to the rule that early clashes should be easy.

World number two Caroline Wozniacki staged a quite remarkable comeback to win her match, but even then she’s not really the story of the day. That honour goes to a 15-year-old qualifier ranked around 500 in the world.

A former Grand Slam junior champ in Melbourne Marta Kostyuk, the Ukrainian who was given a qualifying wildcard is now into the third round of the women’s singles.

She’s not old enough to drive in most countries let alone drink, or vote.

But the quietly confident teen was impressive in her straight sets win over Aussie Olivia Rogowska and looks to have the world at her feet. She’s coached by Ivan Ljubicic who currently works with Roger Federer and has just about every shot in the book and few that aren’t at her disposal.

Meanwhile Wozniacki showed composure to come from 1-5 down in the third set with a couple of match points thrown in to defeat Jana Fett from Croatia 7-5 in the final set in two and a half hours. That Wozniacki was even in need of a comeback gives a bit of credit to her opponent, but also says something about her game needing more work at how to win free points.

Also through on the women’s side was Elina Svitolina, the fourth seed which most people have never heard of, although it took three sets for Svitolina from the Ukraine to account for Katerina Siniakova.

The men’s draw had drama when Canadian hotshot Denis Shapovalov should have taken out 15th seed and former finalist  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The epic match which lasted just over three and a half hours had everything to keep the crowd entertained, but it was the veteran Tsonga winning 7-5 in the fifth set.

Only men’s sixth seed Marin Cilic looked truly fresh after his 6-1 7-5 6-2 victory over Joao Sousa in the hot conditions which have not hit Melbourne and could see temperatures reaching 35 and over for the remainder of the first week.