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From Qualifiers to Semifinals at the Australian Open: The Rise of Dayana Yastremska

Dayana Yastremska in action ahead of the WTA Cluj-Napoca Open.
Dayana Yastremska is a 23-year-old Ukranian-born tennis player currently ranked No. 29 on the WTA Tour. Yastremska recently made headlines at the 2024 Australian Open, working her way through qualifiers to the semifinal round. Yastremska, ranked No. 93 at the time, became the lowest-ranked player in 40 years to reach the women’s singles semifinals at the Australian Open.

Dayana Yastremska’s Tennis Journey 

Yastremska’s tennis journey began at 5five years old, training as a junior in Istanbul, Turkey. Yastremska would make her junior major debut at 16, where she would reach the singles quarterfinals at the 2016 Australian Open. She would partner up with Anastasia Zarycka for doubles at the same tournament, ultimately falling to Anna Kalinskaya and Tereza Mihalíková in the final round.

People began to take notice of Yastremska at the 2016 Wimbledon Juniors tournament when she beat the top seed of the tournament at the time, Olesya Pervushina. With this result, she would make the final against Anastasia Potapova. Although she lost the final, this got her to No. 6 junior in the world, reaching a career-high ranking during her junior years. 

Even before her record Australian Open run, Yastremska has been prevailing in her achievements across the WTA tour. Yastremska became the first player born in the 2000s to play her way into the Top 100 of the WTA tour. In October 2018, she would win her maiden WTA title at the Hong Kong Open without dropping a set. That same year she also marked her first top-20 win, stunning Garbine Muguruza at the Luxembourg Open. 

The following year, she would win two titles on the WTA tour. The first would be at the Hua Hin Championships, where she defeated Ajla Tomlijanovic in the final. Her second would come post-injury, where she defeated Aryna Sabalenka and Caroline Garcia at the Internationaux de Strasbourg tournament. It would be a noteworthy year for Yastremska, achieving her year-end career-high ranking of No.22.

At the age of 19, she reached a career-high ranking of No. 21 and won three WTA titles before she turned 20 years old.

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The 2024 Australian Open

Yastremska would enter the Australian Open through qualifiers, working her way up into the main draw. Eventually, she would begin her main draw against Marketa Vondrousova in the Round of 128. Yastremska would win the match in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, upsetting the No. 7 seed in the tournament. She would also beat Varvara Gracheva and the No. 27 seed Emma Navarro to reach the Round of 16, where she would take on Victoria Azarenka. 

Yastremska shot a forehand winner to win the first set tiebreak against the No. 16 seed, carrying the momentum to win the match 7-6(6), 6-4. This win would take her to the Australian Open quarterfinal, and she would also re-enter the WTA Top 50 rankings for the first time since 2021. This marked a career-high achievement from her previous history competing at Grand Slam tournaments. However, this would only be one part of a remarkable record-breaking run for Yastremska at the Sunshine Slam. 

In the quarterfinal, Yastremska squared off against Linda Noskova, winning in straight sets 6-3, 6-4. Yastremska would serve it out to win the match, making her the first qualifier since 1978 to reach the Australian Open semifinals. “It’s nice to make history,” Yastremska said, “It’s something new for me and my generation.” Yastremska would make her first Grand Slam singles semifinal, drawing against No.12 seed Qinwen Zheng. 

“It feels very comfortable and it feels like home,” Yastremska says, “Here, you’re focused on the matches. Time goes by pretty fast, you don’t have much time to analyze how it feels.”

In their first career Grand Slam semi-final, Yastremska would fall to Zheng 6-4, 6-4. Despite this, Yastremska would make a remarkable run at this year’s Australian Open and would come out of the tournament with a positive outlook.

“The results, I’m happy about it,” Yastremska says, “I still think it was a great tournament for me. I usually get in seven matches in a grand slam to play, and I have played nine matches, I’m very proud of myself.”

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Moving Forward

After a remarkable Australian Open run, Yastremska moves back up into the WTA top 30. She also is the third Ukrainian tennis player, besides Elina Svitolina and Andrei Medvedev, to reach the semifinals in Melbourne.

Yastremska recently competed at the Upper Austria Linz with a wild card. She would overcome the challenges of jetlag to beat her opponent, Erika Andreeva, in three sets 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-2. She would eventually fall to the No.3 seed Donna Vekic 6-1, 6-1 in the second round. Yastremska is 11-3 on the young season, and has high expectations for the rest of the 2024 season.

Main Photo Credit: Angela Wilhelm – USA Today Sports Syndication: Asheville Citizen-Times


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