Ukrainian tennis star Dayana Yastremska says enormous public support helped lift her into the WTA Lyon Open final after she edged out second seed Sorana Cirstea in a three-set thriller.
Yastremska was forced to leave home in Odessa last month amid the escalation of the Ukraine-Russia crisis and has embarked on an emotional run through this week’s tournament in France.
The 21-year-old wildcard admitted she has been overwhelmed by support from across the globe amid her winning streak, which grew on Saturday as she beat Cirstea 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 6-4 victory in their semi-final.
“It was a really tough match,” Yastremska said. “In the third set, when I had match points and I lost that game, I was a bit crazy. I thought, I’m done, I’ve lost, because I don’t have any more power.
“Then everybody was supporting me, and I felt like, ‘you can do it’. I got a lot of messages from French people and from all over the world. But when I arrived here, I didn’t expect I would get that huge support.”
Yastremska will face Zhang Shuai in Sunday’s final, after the Chinese eighth seed defeated French home favourite Caroline Garcia 6-2 7-5.
For Yastremska, it will be her first final since losing to world No.1 Ash Barty in Adelaide at the start of 2020 – her only previous tournament success came in Strasbourg the year before.