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Russian-born Elena Rybakina calls for peace after reaching Wimbledon semi-finals

Elena Rybakina celebrates victory against Ajla Tomljanovic at Wimbledon (Steven Paston/PA)
Elena Rybakina celebrates victory against Ajla Tomljanovic at Wimbledon (Steven Paston/PA)

Russian-born Elena Rybakina called for the war in Ukraine to stop after she beat Ajla Tomljanovic to secure a maiden appearance in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The 23-year-old won 4-6 6-2 6-3 on day 10 of the Championships to become the first player representing Kazakhstan to progress into the last four at the All England Club.

Rybakina was born in Moscow but switched international allegiance in 2018, meaning she is free to compete at SW19 this summer while players from Russia and Belarus are banned due to the invasion of Ukraine.

“I just want the war to end as soon as possible and peace,” the world number 23 said.

“I was born in Russia, but of course I am representing Kazakhstan. It’s already a long journey for me. I was playing Olympics, Fed Cup before.

“I got so much help and support. I’m feeling just the support of the people and very happy to represent Kazakhstan because I think I’m also bringing some results, which are very good for the sport in Kazakhstan.”

The 17th seed had flown under the radar during the first week of Wimbledon, but produced an impressive display on Court One to down Tomljanovic.

Elena Rybakina (left) shake hands with Ajla Tomljanovic
Elena Rybakina (left) shake hands with Ajla Tomljanovic (Steven Paston/PA)

Rybakina struggled initially and lost her first set of the Championships before she found her game.

Three breaks forced a decider in the quarter-final tie and a hotstreak of nine games won out of a possible 10 saw her through.

Simona Halep stands between Rybakina and a place in the final.

On Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarussian athletes, she added: “I mean, when I heard this, this is not something you want to hear because we are playing sport.

Elena Rybakina battled her way into the quarter-finals
Elena Rybakina battled her way into the quarter-finals (Steven Paston/PA)

“Everybody wants to compete. They were not choosing where they born. Of course, I feel it for them because everybody wants to compete at the biggest tournament, at Wimbledon. Yeah, I just hope that next year is going to be back to normal.

“I’m really happy that I’m representing Kazakhstan already for a long time.

“They believed in me. They made everything possible for me to keep playing, keep improving. Of course, it helped a lot.”

Former Wimbledon champion Halep raced through her quarter-final with Amanda Anisimova on Centre Court to extend her All England Club winning run to 12 matches.

Simona Halep celebrates victory
Simona Halep celebrates victory (Adam Davy/PA)

Halep triumphed in SW19 three years ago but missed out on being able to defend her title following the tournament’s cancellation in 2020, while a calf issue sidelined her last summer.

The two-time grand-slam champion has looked in supreme form throughout her Wimbledon return despite plenty of form and injury struggles during the last 12 months and eased to a 6-2 6-4 win in 63 minutes.

Another rapid victory means Halep has only been on court at SW19 this summer for five hours and 38 minutes heading into Thursday’s semi-final.

“I feel ready to go. I feel good physically, mentally as well,” the Romanian said.

“Yeah, I feel ready for tomorrow. It is the same thing for her, she played today also. So yeah I’m not thinking about these things. I’m just thinking that I have a very nice chance to play semis in Wimbledon.

“I feel super happy about it. I struggled a lot, as I said many times. Now being in the semis of a grand slam, it means a lot. I will take it. I will give myself the credit that I’ve been really good this period of two, three months. I work hard.

“It’s just a joy to be back in the semi-final of a grand slam.”

Halep’s clash with Rybakina will be second on Centre Court on Thursday following the first semi-final battle between Tatjana Maria and Ons Jabeur.