Teenager in hot water for post-match act at Aus Open

The father of a 16-year-old competing at the Australian Open has apologised for her daughter’s actions after her first-round defeat.

Yelyzaveta Kotliar lost 6-2 6-4 to 15th seed Vlada Mincheva in the opening round of the junior competition on Saturday.

After the final point, Kotliar and Mincheva came to the net and touched hands as is customary at the conclusion of a match.

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But that didn’t go down well in Kotliar’s home country of Ukraine given her opponent is Russian.

Ukrainian players have all refused to shake hands of Russian or Belarusian players since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

And players from Russian and Belarus play under a neutral flag.

The Ukrainian Tennis Federation have reportedly opened an investigation into the “unpleasant incident.”

The teenager’s father, Konstantin Kotliar, apologised for her daughter’s “mistake”.

Ukrainian teenager Yelyzaveta Kotliar. Credit: Facebook

“The atmosphere here is extraordinary, which in itself puts a lot of pressure on the athletes,” he said in a statement released by the UTF.

“At the beginning of your career, it’s hard to cope with this and not be nervous. Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t feel calm, her emotions were running high, so she wasn’t completely in control of her behaviour.

“She automatically performed the post-match ritual, not realising that behind the net there was a representative of the country who launched the attack on our homeland.

“It was definitely a mistake that Liza regrets and assures us that she will never allow anything like that to happen again.”

The Ukrainian tennis players have attempted to make a stand at the Australian Open, speaking out at the lack of talk about the conflict, which is approaching its third year.

After losing to Belarusian world No.2 and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, Lesia Tsurenko said fans now get annoyed if she discusses the issue.

“People don’t want to talk about war, people don’t want to hear bad news,” she said.

“I am trying to remind the world that the war is still on and people are still struggling.

“It seems like the whole world is tired of hearing that. It is still going on and it’s a part of my life and other Ukrainians’ lives and we have to talk about it, we have to remind people about Ukraine and, of course, about all the other wars that are going on around the world and how unfair it is.”

Tsurenko also delivered a pointed message to trolls the day after that loss and revealed horrific details of a close friend, who had just been released after 18 months of captivity.

Tsurenko has been outspoken throughout the tournament. Credit: Getty Images

“I noticed that my loss yesterday made a lot of people happy. So my new post is for you,” she wrote on Instagram. “Please feel free to express whatever you want to me. I hope this will make you happy for a little bit longer.

“But you know, on the eve of the new year, my friend returned from Russian captivity after 1.5 years. Lost 55 kilograms of body weight and with an infection in his legs, but the main thing is that he is alive.

“This is real happiness. So I hope that you will also have real reasons to feel happy in your (life), and not because of the loss of some random tennis player whom you have never even met in your life.”

Ukraine have enjoyed a successful tournament with Marta Kostyuk and qualifier Dayana Yastremska both reaching the final eight.

Kostyuk was beaten by fourth seed Coco Gauff in a three-hour marathon on Tuesday, while Yastremska, who has beaten seventh seed Marketa Vondrousova and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka en route to the quarter-finals, takes to the court on Wednesday.

Earlier in the tournament, Kostyuk took aim at the media when asked if the sport had lost interest in the ongoing battle in Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, yes. I respect journalists, but there are some that I really don’t like,” she said.

“I think it was a way of not really lightening up the situation in Ukraine, but rather it being like breaking news all the time. So they want the drama. They wanted news. They wanted all this heating between players and everything.

“The war is still there. People are still dying every day. I still don’t understand what all these players are doing here.

“Nothing really changed in my world. I feel like in general it’s a lot of processes happening to come to this point where people forget about it because, yeah, people get used to it.

“I understand that everyone has their own issues, and everyone is focused on their thing. I think I’m here to remind everyone all the time that it’s still on, and it should be stopped. It’s not normal that it’s happening.”

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