Marta Kostyuk entered record books on Monday when she became the youngest player to win a match at the Australian Open in 22 years.
The 15-year-old qualifier became the first player born in 2002 to win in the main draw of a Grand Slam when she shocked 25th seed Peng Shuai of China in straight sets.
Kostyuk, who hails from Ukraine, beat the 2014 US open semi-finalist who, at 32, is more than twice her age, 6-2, 6-2. This was Kostyuk's first-ever tour-level match.
Peng first played the Australian Open in 2005, when Kostyuk was just two years old. But the youngster showed no sign of nerves on her Grand Slam debut as she closed out the match on her first match point with a searing ace.
Kostyuk's next opponent will be Australian Olivia Rogowska, who defeated Jaimee Fourlis 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-2.
In 2016, Kostyuk won the junior singles title at the Australian Open at the age of 14. She is currently ranked 521 in the world and has been playing on the ITF circuit.
In May 2017, she won the ITF tournament in Dunakeszi (Hungary), becoming the youngest Ukrainian to win a professional title in the single-player category.
— ITF (@ITF_Tennis) January 15, 2018
She is managed by Roger Federer's coach, Ivan Ljubicic, who was in attendance during her qualifying matches at the Australian Open.
The Ukrainian was given a wildcard into qualification. She went on to notch three impressive three-set victories to make the main draw. She first beat local favorite Arina Rodionova, who was seeded nine in qualifying, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3; followed by a 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over Chile's Daniela Seguel; and then got past over Nurnberg finalist Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 5-7, 6-0.
She told WTA that having Ljubicic in her corner is a huge boost. "Only a month ago when I was practising in Italy, I just realised how lucky I am to have him (Ljubici) by my side. When he's coming for my matches, and when he says a word to me, you cannot imagine how I feel. When he says, 'Let's go, Marta,' I feel I can beat anyone."
— Marta Kostyuk (@marta_kostyuk) January 14, 2018
Kostyuk was born in June 2002 to Oleg Kostyuk and his wife, Talina (Beyko). Her father was the technical director of a Kiev junior tennis tournament called the Antey Cup, and her mother was a professional tennis player representing Ukraine in the 1990s.
With both her parents having a tennis background, Marta took to the sport at the young age of five at the Antey tennis club.
At 15 years and 6 months old, Kostyuk became the youngest player to qualify for a Grand Slam since Sesil Karatantcheva (15 years, 5 months) at the 2005 Australian Open. She is now the youngest player to have won a Grand Slam main-draw match since CiCi Bellis (15 years, 4 months) defeated Dominika Cibulkova at the 2014 US Open. Her first-round win also made her the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open since Martina Hingis's quarter-final run at the age of 15 years and 4 months in 1996.
However, she is unfazed by these records and says she treats every match as the same. "I'm doing some records every year, every tournament, I don't feel special about this," Kostyuk told reporters in Melbourne. "If I feel something different every time I play and break a record, it'd be too much."
"I feel like it’s another match, I don’t think 'Oh my God, I’m in (the) second round.' It’s another tournament and another experience."
Kostyuk is on an unbeaten run at the Australian Open — six wins in the juniors last year, three in qualifying and one in the main draw — and she has every intention of keeping it going.
Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 16:26:38 IST