Fifty years after the historic Battle of the Sexes, political circumstances have unexpectedly led to another singles match between a female and a male tennis player. Namely, Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk refused to play Russian Mirra Andreeva in the final of an exhibition event in France, and the best replacement the tournament could find was ATP player Yanis Ghazouani Durand.
The 2023 Negometal Open de Bourg-de-Peage final was supposed to be played against Croatian Donna Vekic and the winner of the semifinal between Moscow-born Varvara Gracheva, who has recently started representing France, and Russian Mirra Andreeva, a 16-year-old named the WTA’s Newcomer of the Year.
As Vekic was unable to compete due to injury, Kostyuk agreed to replace her. However, the unforeseen twist emerged when Andreeva secured her spot in the final, prompting Kostyuk, a newlywed Ukrainian, to decline facing a player representing a nation embroiled in conflict with her homeland.
Amid this unprecedented scenario, the organizers of the exhibition event took to social media to announce their strange but unavoidable decision:
Due to reasons beyond our control and considering the geopolitical situation in Ukraine, Marta Kostyuk will not be able to compete in the final of the 6th edition of the Negometal Open. We have made every effort to activate our network of professional female players, but unfortunately, the time frame is too short to find a replacement. Therefore, we have made the decision to have our Peageois player Yanis Ghazouani Durand compete against the young prodigy Mirra Andreeva. Thank you for your understanding.
Even though Durand is ranked world No.1145 on the ATP Tour, he overpowered the WTA No.57 Andreeva 7-5 6-2 in the final.