NEW YORK (AP) — Daria Snigur raised her arms in celebration, then lowered them to wrap her hands around the blue-and-yellow ribbon on her chest.
This win — her first on the WTA Tour — was for Ukraine.
Snigur pulled off the first big upset of the U.S. Open, knocking off No. 7 seed Simona Halep 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 on Monday.
Days after taking part in an exhibition to raise money for her country that is fighting a war against invading Russia, Snigur fought through tears as she tried to explain what the victory meant to her family and her home.
“No comment, I think, because it’s impossible for me now,” Snigur said.
The 20-year-old was making her first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam after emerging through the qualifying rounds last week.
On Wednesday, she joined tennis superstars such as Rafael Nadal, Coco Gauff, John McEnroe, Iga Swiatek and 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez in the “Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition,” an event organized by the U.S. Tennis Association that raised $1.2 million.
It took place in Louis Armstrong Stadium, which may have calmed Snigur’s nerves when she was sent back out there Monday.
“I think it helped me because I was here in ‘Tennis Plays for Peace’ and I think it helped me a little bit,” Snigur said during an on-court interview.
Snigur won the Wimbledon girls singles title in 2019, but failed in her first eight attempts to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam before finally breaking through. She was 0-2 on tour and was facing a top-20 opponent for the first time.
And in Halep, it was one of the hottest players in women’s tennis. The two-time Grand Slam champion had won 19 of her previous 22 matches and recently returned to the top 10.
But Snigur responded nicely after Halep won the second set, racing to a 5-1 lead in the third. Halep fought off a couple match points while taking the next three games before Snigur finally closed it out when Halep sailed a backhand long.
Snigur then dropped her racket and covered her face as she fought back tears.
Elina Svitolina’s run to the 2019 semifinals is the best performance by a Ukrainian in the U.S. Open. One of five of them in this year’s draw, Snigur will face Canadian Rebecca Marino on Wednesday.
First, she was going to savor a stunner.
“I want to say thanks to all the fans who watched our match today,” she said.
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