15 Jan 2018

Fifteen-year-old Kostyuk makes mark in Melbourne

News Article

Photo: Paul ZimmerMarta Kostyuk (UKR)

Fifteen-year-old Marta Kostyuk produced a huge upset on the opening day of the 2018 Australian Open after knocking out 25th seed Peng Shuai in just 57 minutes.

Kostyuk, who won the girls’ singles title in Melbourne last January, defeated Peng 62 62 to set up a second round clash with Australian wild card Olivia Rogowska.

The Ukrainian had to qualify to earn a place in her first Grand Slam main draw, with victory over Peng adding to her three qualifying wins over Arina Rodionova, Daniela Seguel and Barbora Krejcikova.

She is the first 15-year-old to qualify for a Grand Slam since Sesil Kratantcheva achieved the feat at the 2005 Australian Open.

"Age is nothing to me," said Kostyuk, the current junior world No. 2, last week. "When people say to me, the girl you beat is 10 years older than you, I'm like, ‘so what’? But girls who are 25, they're coming to play against a 15-year-old girl and they are becoming tight when I start to win."

The confident Kostyuk, perhaps best known for her acrobatic backflip celebration after title wins, has enjoyed a rapid rise through the junior ranks over the past year.

As well as winning the 2017 girls’ singles title in Melbourne, Kotsyuk won the doubles crown at the US Open alongside Serbia's Olga Danilovic and capped her year with victory at the 2017 ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu in October without dropping a set.

In May, she became the first 14-year-old winner on the ITF Pro Circuit since American Clare Liu in 2015 after winning a $25,000 event in Dunakeszi, Hungary.

Kostyuk’s vast potential has not gone unnoticed – and the world No. 521 has strong support from the sidelines in the form of her manager, Ivan Ljubicic, coach of Roger Federer.

“Only a month ago when I was practising in Italy, I just realised how lucky I am to have him by my side," Kostyuk said. "When he's coming for my matches, and when he says a word to me, you cannot imagine how I feel. When he says, 'Let's go, Marta,' I feel I can beat anyone."