This week, 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva, recognized by the WTA as "Rookie of the Year", found herself in an unexpected situation. At the end of the season, the Russian took part in an exhibition tournament in Bourg-de-Péage, France. In the final, the young athlete had to face Yanis Gazuani Duran, who is ranked 1145th in the ATP rankings.

The tennis player was forced to play with a man and participate in the "battle of the sexes" because of the behavior of Marta Kostyuk. Initially, the Ukrainian was not invited to the tournament, but she agreed to replace the injured Donna Vekic, who was supposed to take the court in the final. And the opponent of the Croatian was determined in the match between Varvara Gracheva, who received French citizenship this year, and Andreeva.

As you can see, Kostyuk did not expect that Mirra would cope with her former compatriot, who is 14 positions higher in the world ranking (6:1, 6:2), and after the victory of the Russian, unexpectedly for the organizers, she withdrew from the competition. As explained in the press service of the tournament, Marta refused to go on the court because of the "geopolitical" situation in the world.

The act of the Ukrainian looks quite strange, because, agreeing to replace Vekic, she was well aware that the chances of playing with Andreeva are quite high. It would have been better not to reassure the organizers of the Negometal Open, but the tennis player preferred a demonstrative refusal.

In addition, this year Kostyuk has repeatedly met with the Russians on the court: in early October in Beijing, she lost to Lyudmila Samsonova, and at the end of September in Tokyo - to Daria Kasatkina. In Birmingham in June, she was opposed by Anastasia Potapova. However, it was Marta who was one of the initiators of the refusal of Ukrainian women to shake hands in matches with representatives of the Russian Federation and Belarus.

At the same time, State Duma deputy Dmitry Svishchev explained the behavior of the athlete by the fact that at home, at the end of the year, she may be under pressure from the government of Ukraine.

"Have they really been so intimidated? If we look at the situation throughout the year, our and Ukrainian tennis players played against each other almost everywhere, and it was quiet and peaceful. But refusing to participate in the tournament, especially in the finals, is, of course, cool! I think this is due to a certain pressure from Ukrainian officials and their Olympic committee, as well as lobbyists for a tough confrontation between our countries," Svishchev told RT.

In favor of this version is the following fact: the day before, another Ukrainian, Elina Svitolina, once again spoke out. Commenting on the IOC's decision to allow Russians and Belarusians to participate in the Olympics, she said that athletes from the Russian Federation should not compete for their country.

"Now a fairly large number of Russian tennis players are in the top of the best – this is a well-known fact, and of course, this cannot suit our closest neighbors. They may have concerns, because none of their representatives rises above our athletes in terms of rating.

All this speaks to this or to ordinary human envy and the desire to take advantage of the political situation to eliminate competitors. This can also happen, because this is all business and prize money, but I hope it has nothing to do with reality," Svishchev said.

At the same time, according to State Duma deputy Svetlana Zhurova, such behavior on the part of tennis players will continue in the future.

"Ukraine has said in general that it will boycott the competition if Russians are allowed to participate in them in any number. And the criteria for selection for the Olympics are already met by a very small part of our athletes, and these are tennis players. Therefore, it is the representatives of this sport who will perform now, they have been given the task of commenting, it is useless for the rest to do this, since other sports, most likely, will not be able to go. Believe me, they will still try to boycott it, and we have not yet given a final decision on the Olympics," Zhurova told RT.

Be that as it may, Andreeva suffered in this situation, since the organizers could not find a replacement for Kostyuk in a couple of hours. So Mirra had to play with a man, Yanis Gazuani Duran. Such matches at tournaments, even exhibition ones, are not often held, since their outcome is largely predictable. In the 1970s, Bobby Riggs dated girls twice, defeating Margaret Court and losing to Billie Jean King. In the 1990s, Jimmy Connors easily dealt with Martina Navratilova, and German Carsten Braasch dealt with the young Williams sisters.

To her credit, she even led 2-0 with a break in the first set. However, then the 23-year-old Frenchman restored the balance, and in the end at 5:5 he took two games in a row.

In the second game, Mirra could no longer fight on equal terms with an opponent who surpassed her in punching power and serve. Still, so far she does not always cope with the girls from the top 10. In the end, Duran took the first five games out of six. Andreeva fought to the end and even with a score of 5:2 she played one match point, but she did not have enough strength for more. Interestingly, the Negometal Open trophy went to the Russian.

"The atmosphere and organization are unreal. Thank you to everyone who came to the match today. And it's actually the first time I've held a trophy after losing a match. I hope this is the last time this happens to me (laughs).

Everything was fine until the moment Duran beat me today. He played really well and also deserved the cup. I'm sorry you didn't get it (laughs)," Mirra said on the court after the match.