MIAMI – Elina Svitolina was typically composed as she played through her Thursday match against Heather Watson on a wind-blown Court 7.

The only visible signs of the turmoil lurking beneath the surface were a subtle series of yellow and blue markers – the flag next to Svitolina’s name on the scoreboard, a ribbon pinned to her chest, a yellow scrunchie in her hair, a light blue visor.

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Under normal circumstances, it would be fair to say that the two players battled or clashed in the heat and humidity of a Miami Open match that ran past 2½ hours. But as the world knows now, circumstances in Ukraine – where Svitolina was born – are far from normal. The country is under siege, fighting a war with Russia it didn’t ask for.

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Even as Svitolina was losing 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), nearly 6,000 miles away family and friends feared for their lives in the southern port city of Odesa, on the edge of the Black Sea. Svitolina is terrified right along with them.

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Her parents – father Mykhaylo and mother Olena – escaped to somewhere in Europe a few weeks ago, joining some 3.5 million other refugees who have fled, approaching 10 percent of the population. Her uncle, aunt and grandmother from her mother’s side were not so lucky. A few days ago, they heard explosions for the first time.

“Before, Odesa was safer than Kyiv or eastern Ukraine,” an emotional Svitolina told the WTA. “I spoke to my grandmother, who lives by the sea. She said they were launching rockets from ships, right into the city.

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“They are very scared. For the past few days, I’ve been really worried for their safety.”

This was 30 minutes after losing to Watson in that third-set tiebreak, a harrowing loss regardless of the situation. Svitolina’s face was red, her voice quavered on occasion and there were tears in her eyes. The 27-year-old looked exhausted.

Svitolina’s Sunshine Double has been exceptionally – and understandably – bleak. The one-time World No.3 has lost her past two matches to players from Great Britain ranked outside the Top 100.

“It was quite tough to focus,” she said. “Very tough, mentally, to go on the court. I know I tried to be brave and face the challenges. I would say that I’m not 100 percent. And talking to the other Ukrainian players in Indian Wells and Miami, they have been struggling, too. We are telling each other, yeah, we are here and then sometimes we are not here.

“With everything that’s happening in Ukraine, it’s just very, very sad. Every hour we are seeing the news everywhere. You see it, and for my homeland it’s very painful.”

Her brother, Yulian, who has lived in Los Angeles for some time, has organized the shipping of first-aid kits to Ukraine, where shortages of health supplies are widespread.

Svitolina, too, is doing her part – maybe more. At the BNP Paribas Open, she hosted a charity event called “Tennis with the Stars.” Proceeds went to Ukrainian refugees. In Monterrey, Mexico, she said she would donate prize money to the Ukraine army and to humanitarian aid groups. She has consistently criticized the war in her social media posts, beginning with the first day of the invasion.

“I am proud to be Ukrainian,” she wrote. “Let us unite in this extremely difficult time for the sake of peace and the future of our state. Glory to Ukraine.”

Svitolina said she has great admiration for the sacrifice of her compatriot on the ATP Tour, Sergiy Stakhovsky. Back in January, he lost in the first qualifying round at the Australian Open. Now Stakhovsky, who was once ranked a career-high No. 31 among ATP players, is patrolling the streets in Kyiv, wearing a camouflage uniform and bearing a gun. Stakhovsky, 36, left behind a wife and three children in Budapest.

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2020 Miami

“He’s such a brave man,” Svitolina said. “All these people who came back to Ukraine to defend our homeland, they are heroes. I mean, it’s unbelievable.

“For my part, I try to do everything possible from my side with tennis. Helping the Ukrainian people is in my mind at all times.”

Gael Monfils, a formidable ATP player, sat courtside right behind his wife for the entire match against Watson.

“My second family, let’s say, [is] battling,” he said at Indian Wells. “It’s not easy to see my wife a couple weeks ago crying every night. It’s tough to describe because I’m in it. I’m in it. And it’s just kind of crazy, when you think about it. But we try to manage it the best way that we can.”

Svitolina said her parents keep her reasonably up to date on family news back in Ukraine, but “because they know the stress I go through, they try not to tell me everything.”

She didn’t have to talk after a grueling match Thursday, but she said she wanted to. Svitolina said it’s important to continue speaking out about the conflict.

“First week, I would say, it was tough,” she said. “I was waking up from the nightmares. It was really horrible.

“Now, better because you get used to it. We are humans, so you get used to the pattern. I can say, though, this is the worst period of my life.”