Marta Kostyuk took a bit of an unprompted shot at Emma Raducanu while explaining how different scenarios could impact one's Grand Slam title chances.
After beating Leylah Fernandez in the 2021 US Open final, Raducanu made tennis history as she became the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam title. That year, Raducanu also defeated Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari en route to the title. On the other side, Fernandez - who lost to Raducanu in the final - defeated three top-5 players at the time, Aryna Sabalenka, Naomi Osaka, and Elina Svitolina.
After becoming a Grand Slam champion at the US Open in September, the 19-year-old American said at the Australian Open that she realized during her Flushing Meadows run that you can win a Grand Slam even when without delivering a perfect tennis every match.
On Sunday, 21-year-old Kostyuk dismantled qualifier world No. 170 Maria Timofeeva 6-2 6-1 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. In her first Slam quarterfinal at Melbourne Park, world No. 37 Kostyuk will be taking on fourth-seeded Gauff. Ahead of their match, Kostyuk was asked about Gauff's claim that one can win a Slam without playing lights out in all seven matches.
“It's every day and every slam and every tournament is so unique and so different. Everything is different," Kostyuk said.
"Someone can have a very easy draw, and someone can have extremely difficult. I have an easiest example of when Leylah and Emma were playing the final, what draw Leylah had and what draw Emma had. Emma, no offense, but Leylah was really fighting for her life every single match.
"I don't know. It depends. I think there are players who really win this Grand Slam and they're like, 'Wow, I don't think I will ever recover from this physically and emotionally.' There are players who are, like, 'Oh, it was fine, I might do it again.'
"I don't know. I think it's so unique. I wish I experienced this to give you a proper answer, but I'm working for it. We will see."
Kostyuk rips the US Open
After Kostyuk defeated 20-year-old Russian Timofeeva for an Australian Open quarterfinal spot, the US Open posted about the Ukrainian's result. But it included a detail that left Kostyuk very annoyed and disappointed as the post included a Russian flag to Timofeeva's name.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine, the ATP and WTA announced that Russian and Belarusian players would be allowed to continue competing but only as neutral athletes - that means there is no display of the name or the flag of those two countries. Kostyuk, who has been very outspoken in her support for Ukraine and pushing for a suspension of Russian and Belarusian players, couldn't believe it after seeing a Russian displayed in a post published by a Grand Slam tournament.
“As you know with the beginning of the full-scale invasion, we fought for the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes. Now they act in neutral status without their flags," Kostyuk said in a message posted on her Instagram Story.
“And so today, after my victory over the athletes from the aggressor country, the Russian flag was published on the official resource of one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world. Today is the 697th day of full-scale war, and the sports world continues to promote a murderous country and a country that uses its athletes as part of its propaganda.”
After Kostyuk publicly called out the US Open, the post was taken down.
Kostyuk on facing Gauff
When Kostyuk faces Gauff at the Australian Open, it will be their second meeting. Their first meeting came exactly two years ago, when Gauff clinched a 6-3 5-7 6-3 win over Kostyuk in Adelaide.
Since their last meeting, a lot has changed as both Kostyuk and Gauff have improved and gotten better. While Kostyuk has won a WTA title and overall became a better player over the last two years, Gauff managed to win a Grand Slam and establish herself as one of the best players in the women's game.
With that being said, Kostyuk enters the match against Gauff as the underdog. However, Kostyuk has been playing well at Melbourne Park and she is coming off a demolition win, in which she lost just three games. While Gauff will enter the match as the favorite, the fourth-seeded American certainly won't take Kostyuk for granted.
Ahead of their match, Kostyuk showed major respect for Gauff's game.
"She's young, but very experienced because she just has been for so long around. She's a tough competitor. She runs. She has very fast serve, especially first. Very solid backhand," Kostyuk said of facing Gauff.
"She's coming out from the title in Auckland beating Elina in the final. Definitely she's in good shape, I would say."
In her interview, Kostyuk highlighted that she has "nothing to lose" and that she will try to be aggressive and play her game against Gauff. It remains to be seen if Kostyuk can upset Gauff for her first Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open.