Ukraine's Elina Svitolina described her French Open last 16 opponent Daria Kasatkina as "brave" for being the most vocal Russian player to have spoken out against the ongoing war.

Svitolina will face Kasatkina at Roland Garros on Sunday for a place in the quarter-finals after defeating another Russian Anna Blinkova 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 on Friday in her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother.

Once again, Svitolina chose not to shake hands with Blinkova, repeating the stance she took when she beat the same player in the Strasbourg final last weekend.

Kasatkina has already supported the decision by British tennis authorities to provide all Ukrainian players with two hotel rooms throughout the forthcoming grass court season peaking at Wimbledon.

"I'm thankful to Dasha for taking this position. That's what you expect from others, as well. It's really brave from her," said Svitolina of Kasatkina who has faced further criticism at home for coming out as gay.


Kasatkina has also backed the decision by Ukraine players not to shake hands with Russian players or those from Belarus, a key military ally of Moscow.

"Can you imagine the guy or a girl who is right now in the front line, looking at me and I'm acting like nothing is happening," said Svitolina as she explained the decision not to shake hands.

"I'm representing my country. I have a voice. I'm standing with Ukraine. What the Russian government, Russian soldiers are doing on our land is really, really terrible."

She added: "So that's why it follows. We are Ukrainians, we all unite for one goal, for the goal of winning this war, and we do everything what is on regarding this topic."

On the court on Friday, Svitolina, a three-time quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, had to twice serve for the match in the 10th and 12th games of the decider.

She claimed victory on a third match point with a crunching backhand winner to see off Blinkova who had knocked out fifth-ranked Caroline Garcia in the last round.

"I wasn't moving well in the first set but I tried to fight and find my game," said Svitolina, watched courtside by her husband, French tennis star Gael Monfils.


"After the first set, I was playing better and better and just tried to give everything.

"I played well under pressure and just decided to leave everything out there."

Svitolina, who hit 37 winners in Friday's win, revealed that Monfils, who had to withdraw from the tournament after the first round with a wrist injury, is hopeful of being fit for Wimbledon.

"It will take a couple of weeks to recover. Hopefully the recovery will go well. He has already start doing some stuff to speed it up, to be ready for Wimbledon hopefully," she said.

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