Victoria Azarenka caught in handshake drama amid ugly scenes at Miami Open

The Miami Open played host to a number of fiery moments on Thursday.

·4-min read
Victoria Azarenka, Marta Kostyuk and Anastasia Potapova, pictured here at the Miami Open.
Victoria Azarenka (L) and Camila Giorgi had a frosty exchange, while Marta Kostyuk and Anastasia Potapova (R) didn't shake hands at all at the Miami Open. Image: Getty

The WTA tour is well-known for frosty handshakes, with the post-match exchange often providing more drama than the actual match. And that was certainly the case on Thursday at the Miami Open when Camila Giorgi's handshake with Victoria Azarenka left much to be desired.

Azarenka, the 14th seed at the WTA 1000 event, proved too good for Giorgi, winning 6-3 6-1 to advance to the round of 32. But fans and commentators took more notice of the post-match handshake, with Giorgi showing very little love for her opponent and barely looking Azarenka in the eye.

'SCREAMING IN PAIN': Alexei Popyrin advances after 'horrendous' drama

'VERY SAD': Tennis fans left gutted over news about Iga Swiatek

One fan noted that Giorgi almost slapped Azarenka's hand rather than shaking it, while leading tennis journalist Jose Morgado tweeted: "Very impressive performance from former champ Vika Azarenka to beat Camila Giorgi 6-3, 6-1 and reach the 3rd round in Miami. That handshake ahah."

There was a similarly frosty incident after Anastasia Potapova's win over Marta Kostyuk after a week of tension surrounding Russian and Ukrainian athletes. Potapova received an official reprimand for wearing a Russian club football shirt onto court at Indian Wells last week, with the WTA coming down on the move amid such a tumultuous time in the world. Potapova insisted she wasn't making any sort of political statement, but World No.1 Iga Swiatek was among the many to criticise her.

Camila Giorgi, pictured here in action against Victoria Azarenka at the Miami Open.
Camila Giorgi in action against Victoria Azarenka at the Miami Open. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

The Russian player was back in action against Kostyuk (from Ukraine) on Thursday, winning 6-1 6-3. After the final point, Kostyuk refused to shake Potapova's hand and simply packed up her things and left the court.

Kostyuk has been refusing to shake hands with Russian players ever since Vladimir Putin invaded her country, as we saw when she won her maiden WTA title at the ATX Open in Texas earlier this month. On that occasion, the 20-year-old refused to acknowledge her opponent in the final - Varvara Gracheva of Russia.

Martya Kostyuk says WTA ignoring meeting request

On Thursday, Kostyuk made staggering claims that the WTA Tour has ignored a request for a meeting with players from Ukraine to discuss the sport's handling of the situation in their war-torn country. Speaking to reporters after her loss to Potapova, Kostyuk opened up about the frustration she and other Ukrainian players are feeling.

Fellow Ukrainian Lesia Tsurenko said earlier this month that players had asked for a meeting after she pulled out of Indian Wells ahead of a clash with Aryna Sabelenka of Belarus. Kostyuk said the request had so far been ignored.

"Yes, we wanted to have the meeting with the board and we didn't get one. No reply, nothing, just silence," she told reporters.

Kostyuk said she didn't want to go into details about the issues that the players wished to discuss. "I mean, once we're in the meeting we can talk about it. Before the meeting, I don't think it's a good idea to talk about what we want to talk about there," she said.

Marta Kostyuk, pictured here in action against Anastasia Potapova at the Miami Open.
Marta Kostyuk in action against Anastasia Potapova at the Miami Open. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Kostyuk didn't appear impressed with the WTA's response to the furore surrounding Potapova's shirt either. "There are a lot of things that I don't agree with that WTA is doing. This not going to change anything," she said.

"I'll just get more hate online. Whatever I say, I will get a lot of hate. I don't know. Warning, whatever. You give her a warning... You can suspend someone, I don't know. I can't comment on that really, it's just funny."

Meanwhile, American stars Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff both booked their spots in the third round in Miami on Thursday with straight-sets victories over Canadians. Pegula beat qualifier Katherine Sebov 6-3 6-1, while sixth seed Gauff eased past Rebecca Marino 6-4 6-3 to set up a battle with Potapova.

In other second-round matches, Belgian Elise Mertens beat Russian eighth seed Daria Kasatkina, while Latvian 24th seed Jelena Ostapenko, Spanish 21st seed Paula Badosa and China's 23rd seed Zheng Qinwen also advanced.

with agencies

Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.