The former world No. 3 Elina Svitolina was playing in Melbourne for the first time since becoming a mother, but was forced to retire three games into her fourth round due to a back injury.

Svitolina, seeded at No. 19, clashed against Czech teenager Linda Noskova in the Australian Open round-of-16. But early in the match, Svitolina appeared to sustain a back injury that was clearly hampering her in major ways.

After getting broken in the first game of the match, Svitolina also suffered a break in the third game. Down 0-3 to Noskova and having a hard time just moving on the court and serving the ball, Svitolina retired the match.

For Elina Svitolina, it was an absolutely heartbreaking end as the 29-year-old Ukrainian left the court in tears. After the match, Svitolina explained “a very sad” situation that happened on the court.

“I got a spasm, or I don’t know exactly what it is, but like shooting pain in the first game, the last two points,” Svitolina told a press conference.

“Yeah, couldn’t do anything. Completely locked my back. Just very sad, of course, so yeah.”

Svitolina looked outstanding on the court in her opening three matches, clinching three straight-set wins. But against Noskova, it went terribly wrong for Svitolina, who saw her run end in moments after her back completely locked and prevented her from competing.

After the match, Elina Svitolina confirmed that she did feel a certain stiffness before the match. But Svitolina described it as “quite normal” and not as anything that she was finding as strange or particularly worrisome.

In her press conference, Svitolina said she now needs to get her back injury checked. For Svitolina, the hope remains that it’s just a minor injury that won’t require much time away and that she will be able to practice again in a week. It remains to be seen if Svitolina will be ready to return to action in February.

Noskova automatically qualified for the quarterfinals, where she will play against Dayana Yastremska, another player from Ukraine.

Yastremska, 23, beat former world No. 1 Azarenka in two sets 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 to get to the Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time.

Two Ukrainian players will compete in the Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time in history. Marta Kostyuk earned a win over a neutral player, Maria Timofeeva of Russia, on Jan. 21 and will accompany Yastremska on the next stage.

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