Tennis: Kostyuk, Gracheva beat Americans in Austin for 1st WTA final

AP , Sunday 5 Mar 2023

Marta Kostyuk and Varvara Gracheva each reached her first WTA final by beating an American at the ATX Open on Saturday.

Gracheva
Varvara Gracheva, of Russia, hits a return to Katie Volynets, of the United States, during the semifinals of the ATX Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 4, 2023 in Austin, Texas. AP

 

The eighth-seeded Kostyuk took five of the last six games to eliminate 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-3 in the day's first semifinal. Gracheva then reeled off the last four games to defeat Katie Volynets 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 across nearly 2 1/2 hours in a matchup between a pair of unseeded players at night.

Kostyuk is a 20-year-old from Ukraine who is ranked 52nd. Gracheva is a 22-year-old from Russia who is ranked 88th. One will earn a tour-level trophy for the first time on Sunday at the inaugural edition of the hard-court tournament in the Texas capital.

Against the fourth-seeded Collins, Kostyuk saved five of the six break points she faced and won four of her opponent's service games. Kostyuk previously had reached the semifinals at four tournaments but never made it past that round.

Collins was trying to reach her first tour title match since getting that far at Melbourne Park last season before losing to Ash Barty. Collins fell to 0-5 against seeded opponents in 2023 and her career mark in WTA semifinals is now 3-9.

Gracheva, never past the third round at a Grand Slam tournament, has won three of her four matches this week in three sets.

She had made it as far as the semifinals at a WTA event just once before and lost at that stage the other time. But after falling behind 4-2 in the final set against Volynets, a 21-year-old from California, Gracheva did not lose another game.

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