Handshake snub drama in the opening round of the US Open

Handshake snub drama in the opening round of the US Open

We couldn’t even get through the opening round of the US Open without a handshake snub.

The first incident of post-game brutality took place inside Louis Armstrong Stadium on Wednesday.

Number two seed Aryna Sabalenka comfortably accounted for Maryna Zanevska with a 6-3 6-2 opening round victory.

But the Belarusian was left hanging after advancing into the second round as Zanevska strolled straight to her chair before the emotion hit and she walked off court for the final time.

The Ukrainian-born Zanevska was playing in her final tournament, hanging up the racquet due to chronic back issues.

In what was her final on court act, she left her opponent stranded and looking a tad perplexed as to what was unfolding.

Several Ukrainian players have snubbed post-game handshakes with opponents from Russia or Belarus since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. Belarus is a key military ally of Russia.

Zanevska said she had opted not to shake Sabalenka’s hand after accusing the Australian Open champion of not “stepping up” since the conflict began.

“I know I’m representing Belgium but all my family are in Ukraine,” Zanevska told AFP.

“I respect Aryna as a tennis player. She’s a great champion, hard worker, and I mean what she’s doing in tennis is amazing.

“But it’s my personal decision about not shaking the hand to someone who couldn’t step up. I don’t judge her. She’s protecting her family, but I’m protecting my family.

“I have family fighting on the frontline. And I think if I shake her hand it would be the same as spitting in the face of them.” Zanevska’s snub was greeted with scattered booing as she left the court. “It was not the best way of leaving the court because people were booing but I was ready for that,” she said.

“But I’m leaving the tennis world with my head up and something I believe I did right.”

Zanevska stormed off in one ice-cold final act. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP.Source: AFP

Zanevska looked to be on the comeback trail after jumping out to a 2-0 lead to kick start the second set as Sabalenka struggled with double faults.

The World No. 2 however clicked into gear and stormed home by winning six straight games to send her opponent crashing out for the final time.

Sabalenka quickly put the drama behind her as she moved on to celebrate with fans in the crowd signing autographs.

She’ll now head into the second round where she’ll take on Britain’s Jodie Burrage after she Anna Blinkova in straight sets.

The incident came on what was a dark day at the final Grand Slam of the year for Australian tennis fans.

Tears flow after being booed off court | 03:26

Thanasi Kokkinakis produced perhaps the most disappointing performance of the entire day to lose to Taiwanese qualifier Yu Hsiou Hsu in four sets.

Jordan Thompson also retired hurt with an achilles injury after losing the opening set of his match.

Jason Kubler was forced to retire from his match Matteo Arnaldi after just 10 games with a knee injury.

The 6-3 1-0 walkover was one of a string of disappointing results as James Duckworth couldn’t take a set off 168th-ranked Brazilian Felipe Alves and Aleksandar Vukic failed to trouble Alexander Zverev.

The only good news was Alex de Minaur moving through to the second round with a four sets win over Timofey Skatov.


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