Anhelina Kalinina blows a kiss after beating Veronika Kudermetova during the semifinal match in Rome, Italy, on Friday. AP
Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina beat Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 at the Italian Open on Friday to reach the biggest final of her career — and dedicated the victory to her war-torn country.
The half-filled Campo Centrale supported Kalinina, whose family home was destroyed in a Russian attack last year. Some fans held up Ukrainian flags.
"It’s really important to win every match, because of what Ukraine goes through,” Kalinina told the crowd. "I really hope that I give a tiny, small light, maybe some positive emotions for my country. I really hope that Ukraine a little bit enjoys (this).”
Veronika Kudermetova wipes her forehead during her semifinals match against Anhelina Kalinina. AFP
She and Kudermetova did not shake hands after the semifinal, which lasted nearly three hours.
Kudermetova was asked if she gets along with Kalinina while their countries are at war: "We’re here, and we love what we do here. Doesn’t matter from which country you are. We’re athletes and that’s it. We are here to play tennis.”
It's been quite a run for the 47th-ranked Kalinina, who was coming off the longest match on the women’s circuit this season - a 3-hour, 41-minute victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarterfinals.
A young woman lifts the Ukrainian flag during the semifinal match in Rome on Friday. AP
Kalinina also eliminated former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the third round and got by Madison Keys, another established American, in the fourth round.
Rome is the last big warm-up before Roland Garros starts in nine days.
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