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Svitolina defeated Potapova of Russia and is now on a “mission” for Ukraine.

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Ukrainian tennis star Elina Svitolina said she was ‘on a mission for my country’ after thrashing Russia‘s Anastasis Potapova while wearing the yellow and blue colours of her homeland at the Monterrey Open.

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The top-seeded talent managed to find the strength to play in the opening round match despite the horrors back home, after previously insisting she would not play against any Russian or Belarusian opponents until they were banned.

But the International Tennis Federation and the men’s and women’s tennis tours ruled on Tuesday that players from the invading nations would be allowed to play but not under their national flags.

After the victory, the 27-year-old said: ‘Today it was a very special match for me. I’m in a very sad mood, but I’m happy that I’m playing tennis here.

‘I was focused. I was on a mission for my country. From the beginning, it was important to be ready for anything that comes my way.’

Svitolina is a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist with 16 career tour-level singles titles who has been ranked as high as No. 3 and is currently No. 15.

The 27-year-old revealed that she decided she could make more of an impact by playing tennis than boycotting the event. 

‘All the prize money that I’m going to earn is going to be for the Ukrainian army,’ said Svitolina, who won this tournament in 2020. The Monterrey Open has $31,000 in prize money for the champion.

Svitolina, who broke serve in the first and third games on the way to a lopsided win over Potapova in 64 minutes, will play against Viktoriya Tomova in the second round.

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