Dayana Yastremska, the first 2000s-born player to break into the world’s top 100, is a player to watch at this year’s Hobart International…
Dayana Yastremska’s breakthrough 2018 season ended in a flurry of milestones.
The 18-year-old from Ukraine skyrocketed up the rankings, peaking at No.58 after a sensational run that included winning a first WTA singles title.
A fearless performance in the Hong Kong final announced Yastremska’s arrival. Ranked No.102 at the time, she crushed 33 winners to obliterate world No.24 Wang Qiang in 65 minutes.
“The last game, I don’t even remember,” Yastremska told wtatennis.com after her stunning victory.
“It was the most tough game during all the tournament, because in your mind, you’re visualising the way you’re winning, you have this picture in your mind that you want.”
Yastremska bounded around the court with joy after sealing the title and endeared with her youthful excitement during the trophy presentation.
Boarding a flight to Europe immediately after her win, Yastremska continued her impressive form in Luxembourg the following week. She survived a three-hour first round battle against American Varvara Lepchenko, and then stunned Garbine Muguruza to post her first career-win over a top 20-ranked opponent.
Hitting 26 winners to Muguruza’s five in the 6-2 6-3 victory, the ruthless manner with which Yastremska overpowered the former world No.1 highlighted her strengths.
An aggressive ball striker, she likes to step in and take time away from her opponents. The teenager plays a similar first-strike game to Muguruza, who had no answers for her younger opponent’s barrage of winners on this occasion.
“My face was in shock when I won,” Yastremska laughed. “But it was not shock that I won the match, it was shock that I won against Muguruza. I beat a top player who has two Grand Slams, I didn’t expect that it would be this score.”
Yastremska’s eight-match winning streak eventually ended in a three-set semifinal loss to Swiss Belinda Bencic, decided in a final-set tiebreak.
Finishing a sensational season ranked No.60, Yastremska is guaranteed an Australian Open main draw debut in 2019.
Her return to Melbourne Park this summer emphasises the rapid nature of Yastremska’s rise.
She travelled to Australia last summer as the world No.177. Competing in a Grand Slam qualifying event for the first time in her pro career, she lost in the second round.
Following strong results on the secondary ITF Tour, Yastremska made her top 100 debut in July to earn direct acceptance into the US Open. She then won 10 of her final 12 matches for the season at WTA level, including qualifying for her first WTA Premier Mandatory event in Beijing.
Yastremska makes her Hobart International debut this week. She begins her campaign against German qualifier Laura Siegemund, a former world No.27 returning from injury.
Yastremska is coached primarily by her father, but has previously worked with Australian Gavin Hopper – who took Monica Seles to world No.1. Seven-time Grand Slam champion Justine Henin joined her team as a specialist consultant mid-2018 and she hired the former world No.1’s fitness coach.
Taking all the right steps to fulfil her promise, more highs beckon. If the big-hitting Yastremska can approach her career as she does her game, it is clear she will not be afraid to give it her best shot.
“Talent will not help if you do not work the most. Everyone is good, but you need to have something inside you, a drive that will make you push to be the best,” she told wtatennis.com.
“Where will I end up? It’s all in my hands.”
This article originally appeared in Australian Tennis Magazine.