With the WTA Tour’s protective rules on young players in place, mid-teen prodigies are no longer common place like they were in the women’s game 15-20 years ago. One 15 year old is attracting all the buzz as Marta Kostyuk earns a spot on Rod Laver Arena in just her third pro match at a grand slam. Last year’s Girls Singles champion will be up against a familiar name in her compatriot Elina Svitolina.
Kostyuk is already 5 matches deep into the tournament after having to qualify but she has dealt well with a variety of opponents. Playing an injured Shuai Peng and wildcard Olivia Rogowska isn’t exactly the toughest of draws but for a 15 year old to hold it together physically and mentally in her first slam is impressive regardless of the opponents. She won both matches in straight sets although the 11 double faults she hit against Rogowska will be a concern even though they came with 6 aces.
All the pressure will be on Svitolina with the fourth seed still seen as one of the favourites for the title, especially after Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta were amongst the losers on day 4 of the tournament. She avoided a potential banana skin in round two but would need three sets to beat an in-form Katerina Siniakova. Svitolina will be further relieved to have advanced having not felt 100% in the run-up to the tournament. “(For a) couple of days, you know, just tried to recover and be ready for each match, because,it’s only couple of hours that I have to spend on court.” she said.
It’s hard to see a situation where Kostyuk advances, especially as the matches mount up for her. However, it’s a perfect opportunity for the greater tennis fandom to see someone who could well become a fixture on that court in the years to come.
Prediction – Elina Svitolina in straight sets