Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska upset Victoria Azarenka to make the Australian Open quarter-finals

Melbourne (AFP) - Fearless Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska said she hoped she had made her war-torn country proud by reaching a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final Monday, while admitting it was emotionally hard.

Driven by a booming serve and aggressive groundstrokes, the athletic 23-year-old battled past two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (86), 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena to secure a last-eight berth at the Australian Open.

Her reward is a clash with unseeded Czech Linda Noskova, who progressed when Ukrainian Elina Svitolina retired with a bad back while trailing 3-0 in the first set.

“I think they’re going to be really proud of me and I’m happy to make them be proud,” Yastremska said of Ukrainians back home.

Yastremska won three WTA Tour titles as a teenager but has struggled in recent years, admitting the conflict had affected her game.

“A lot of things affected me, and because of that I couldn’t really play like I wanted. Plus I put a lot of pressure on myself, as well,” she said.

“The war, of course, it’s affected us a lot because you cannot go home like you wanted, when you wanted, like it was before. You always read the news. You always see the videos.

“As I said before, for example, when I was in Brisbane (this month), the rocket arrived on my grandmother’s house. It’s tough emotionally to play.”

Yastremska’s previous best at the Slams was a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon in 2019, but she has been in impressive touch at Melbourne Park.

Ranked 93, she has beaten a number of top 50 players, including Wimbledon champion and seventh seed Marketa Vondrousova in the first round.

She landed the first blow in a rollercoaster opening set in her fourth-round match on Monday, going up 3-1, but 18th seed Azarenka responded to put it back on serve as Yastremska’s error-count ballooned.

Her veteran opponent then broke again to move 4-3 ahead, but faltered badly serving for the set at 5-4, blown away to love.

Another break gave Azarenka a 6-5 advantage, but she again lost her nerve, with Yastremska saving two set points before sending it to a tie-break, where she prevailed after 74 draining minutes.

Azarenka flew 3-0 up in the second set but her serve was again exposed and Yastremska came storming back, with a searing backhand down the line giving her a second break for 4-3 and she never relented.