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Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open

Hong Kong Open: Dayana Yastremska upstages Wang Qiang to win first WTA title and spoil the party for home crowd

Unheralded 18-year-old from Ukraine announces herself on the world stage by cruising to straight sets victory against China’s No 1 at Victoria Park, as wait for home winner goes on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2018, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2018, 10:50pm

Dayana Yastremska’s face wasn’t featured on the giant promotional posters that have loomed over the entrance to Victoria Park Tennis Stadium this week. She doesn’t even have a photo on Google’s results page for the tournament.

But you might be hearing her name a lot more going forward, if Sunday’s Prudential Hong Kong Tennis Open final is anything to go by, where a star may have just been born on Centre Court.

The unheralded 18-year-old from Ukraine, who is ranked No 102 in the world, blitzed China’s No 1 Wang Qiang 6-2, 6-1 in 65 minutes to spoil the party for the home crowd.

The 2016 Wimbledon junior finalist looked in disbelief when she wrapped up her first WTA title at the first time of asking, pointing to the sky and running to her team in the crowd.

“Yesterday I felt very confident I could win the title, but in the morning I woke up and felt a bit too nervous,” Yastremska said.

“I couldn’t eat, I have pain in my stomach, I don’t know why – that was the first time I had this kind of pain. I had finals already but this was the first time I had that feeling.

“Then I had in my thoughts maybe I’m not able [to win] – she’s [Wang[ one of the top players. But I trust myself that I can win.

“I didn’t really get deep into that thought. I knew when I go on court I will forget about everything and play point by point.”

Yastremska could be forgiven for enjoying a little celebration with her team in Hong Kong, but she revealed she will be doing nothing of the sort.

“I’m gonna go to my room, pack my bag and fly to Luxembourg, that’s my celebration,” she said, laughing.

“I’m not gonna lose my focus now, it’s important to stay cool and being addicted to the next tournament.”

It would be easy to let this moment, no doubt the biggest of her career, go to her head. But Yastremska seems impressively grounded for her tender age and relative inexperience.

“I’m not a star yet, I’m not judging myself like this. For me I stay cool, I stay the same,” she said.

“I won’t have the pressure, I will just have more ambitions to play and win again. My body is tired because it’s the end of the year, but I will try to take all my last energy for the next tournament and try to play without the pressure.

“To go to Luxembourg and win there, that’s the goal – every tournament I play, every match I win, is to perfect myself and to get experience for my future to win one day a grand slam.”

And so the long wait for a home winner at Victoria Park goes on. In the end. Wang just couldn’t muster one last push.

With a tight hamstring seemingly hindering her, Wang looked jaded on Centre Court after an emotionally and physically draining Saturday that had seen her beat world No 5 Elina Svitolina and former world No 1 Garbine Muguruza in the same day.

Wang was simply upstaged by the upstart Yastremska, who was reeling off incredible winners from almost every angle of the court.

While the 26-year-old will be disappointed not to claim the trophy, she has still enjoyed a remarkable couple of months since the US Open, winning a title in Guangzhou and reaching three semi-finals before her run to the final here.

Her recent efforts have seen her ranking rise to a career high 24. Should she continue this form, Wang will surely achieve her target of cracking the top 20 in 2019.

Wang’s disappointment was evident at her post-match press conference. She mumbled half answers and one-word responses to some questions, and leaned her cheek into the microphone at times wearing a blank expression.

“I think I was really tired from the last two matches, today she [Yastremska] played really well,” Wang said.

“It was really tough against her. She was really aggressive, not too many mistakes. Good serve, good return.”