It was a day of mixed emotions for Ukrainian tennis who had to watch their top-ranked player, Elina Svitolina, retire from her fourth-round match on Margaret Court Arena due to severe back pain. Contrastingly, Yastremksa, who was playing inside Rod Laver Arena, helped restore the smiles of those back home.
The power-hitting 23-year-old from Odesa defeated two-time Australian Open Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-4 to progress. While Yastremska earned most of her plaudits by dismissing Wimbledon champion Marketa Vodnrousova in the first round, her campaign had actually commenced in qualifying.
As one of the earliest visitors to Melbourne Park, Yastremska had to battle her way into the main draw because her ranking was not sufficient for an automatic main draw spot. All three of her qualifying matches went the distance, and Yastremska emerged to win every time.
Yastremska was once paraded as the bright new face of women's tennis when she rose to a career-high ranking of No. 21 in January 2020. She checked every conceivable box to become the new WTA youngster to take the tennis world by storm.
She was young, extremely fast, and possessed the power to the game out of any player's racket. Incidentally, it was at a time when Ukrainian tennis was already brimming with natural talent, with Marta Kostyuk also on the rise (and who has reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the 2024 Australian Open).
But then the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in 2020, and many people's lives changed. One of those was Yastremska, who turned 20 when the tennis tour went into an indefinite hiatus. Yastremska's development was affected like several of her peers of the same age.
And when the tennis shutdown ended, her slump began to take shape, losing more matches than actually winning. Her ranking stooped to a low of 158 at one point last season. Add to the current tension in her wartorn homeland, and it was far from a cozy experience.
Yastremska has been candid about living through the tumultuous times being experienced in Ukraine since Russia's invasion began in 2022, with most of her family members still living there. But her stagnating period now has some light.
The 23-year-old has turned heads right from qualifying and is into the quarterfinal. She is the first qualifier to reach this stage of a Grand Slam since Emma Raducanu in 2021 when she would complete one of the most remarkable feats in tennis history.
Yastremska will face Linda Noskova in the last eight on Wednesday, fully aware of what she could possibly achieve. She stands three match wins from recreating history and potentially joining Raducanu as the second qualifier to win a Grand Slam. Who would have written such a script at the start of the tournament?