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Russia’s Kalinskaya storms into 2024 Australian Open quarterfinals with straight sets win

Anna Kalinskaya, 25, is currently ranked 75th in the Women Tennis Association (WTA) Rankings and has not won any of the WTA titles as of today

SYDNEY, January 22. /TASS/. Russian tennis player Anna Kalinskaya reached her first career Grand Slam tournament quarterfinals after defeating Italy’s Jasmine Paolini on Monday in Round 4 of the 2024 Australian Open.

In a match that lasted about two hours and 20 minutes, the unseeded Russian beat her 26th-seeded Italian opponent in straight sets 6-4; 6-2.

"It feels amazing. Playing so many matches in such a beautiful tournament it’s something special, for sure," the tournament’s official website quoted Kalinskaya as saying in a post-match interview.

Kalinskaya, who won the girls’ doubles title at the Australian Open in 2016, continued by saying "I’ve improved my game - obviously that’s the key to winning matches. I’ll keep fighting and staying positive."

In the round of eight Kalinskaya will encounter 12th-seeded Qinwen Zhen from China, who cruised past her unseeded opponent Oceane Dodin of France in Round 4 with a score of 6-0; 6-3, taking less than an hour to dispatch her.

China’s Zheng, 21, who was named the WTA’s Most Improved Player in 2023, said speaking after her win over Dodin: "Compared to the previous match [at the 2024 Australian Open] this was much shorter."

In Round 3, Zheng took down her compatriot Yafan Wang 6-4; 2-6; 7-6 (10-8) in a match that lasted two hours and 40 minutes.

"I’m really happy to be here [in the quarterfinals of the 2024 Australian Open]," she continued. "Obviously it’s the second time [in a Grand Slam quarterfinal]. I’ll have more experience. I’ll just try to tell myself ‘focus on the moment, don’t think too much’."

Kalinskaya, 25, is currently ranked 75th in the Women Tennis Association (WTA) Rankings and has zero WTA titles in her career. She has never advanced past the second round at any Grand Slam. This year’s Australian Open will mark her best result ever.

The 2024 Australian Open tournament is being played on hard courts at Melbourne Park on January 14-28 and has a purse of $57.8 mln in prize money up for grabs. The opening tournament of the annual Grand Slam series in Australia marks its 112th edition this year. Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka are the reigning Australian Open champions in men’s and women’s singles, respectively.

Russian players’ neutral status at tennis tournaments

On February 28, 2022, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued recommendations to international sports federations to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from taking part in international tournaments, citing Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine as the reason.

Following the IOC’s recommendations in late February 2022, the majority of global sports federations decided to bar athletes from Russia and Belarus from all international sports tournaments.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) ruled on March 1, 2022 to suspend the membership of the Russian and Belarusian national tennis federations while also cancelling all previously scheduled tennis tournaments in the two countries.

On March 14, 2022, the ITF also confirmed its prohibition of the Russian and Belarusian national tennis teams from the 2022 Davis Cup and 2022 Billie Jean King Cup.

However, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) allowed tennis players from Russia and Belarus to continue participating in WTA and ATP tournaments, but only under a neutral status.