MELBOURNE -- Marta Kostyuk answers questions in thoughtful monologues. Even in 2018 as a 15-year-old, she showed an intellectual maturity and depth that betrayed her age. 

Six years on, that wisdom has come to the forefront, as real-life challenges have woven a new layer into her tennis journey.

Amid her run to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Kostyuk's life off the court continues to be marked by larger, pressing issues. The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has cast a somber shadow over her achievements.

Read: Kostyuk discovers newfound stability with Zaniewska

"I think I'm here to remind everyone all the time that it's still on, and it should be stopped," Kostyuk said. "It's not normal that it's happening.

"My whole family is in Kyiv right now. My mom sends me videos when there are missiles flying over their house. I watch this. To me it's incredible that it's still going on, and it's been almost two years."

Kostyuk was one of a record four Ukrainian players to advance to the third round of the Australian Open. The record-breaking surge continued on Saturday, as Dayana Yastremska and Elina Svitolina joined her in the Round of 16. It is the first time more than one Ukrainian woman has progressed to the second week in Melbourne in the Open Era.

On Sunday, Kostyuk eased into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal after defeating qualifier Maria Timofeeva 6-2, 6-1. She will next face World No.4 Coco Gauff. 

"The first record we made is seven Ukrainians in the main draw, which was amazing, as well," said Svitolina, who dropped five games in her third-round win. "I think we are pushing each other. It's really nice that we are playing great tennis."

"My foundation is now taking care of the Billie Jean King Cup, it's unbelievable to have such a great team. It's going to be a challenge for our captain now to pick who is going to be playing. It's nice to have that much choice of great players in a good form."

As war has ravaged their homeland, the Ukrainian players have felt the attention paid to their plight diminish. Still, victory on the court is an opportunity to keep the war in the spotlight and give the nation a source of pride and celebration. 

"I try to do my best, and I compete, and I try to succeed," Kostyuk said. "At the end of the day I look around, and I don't feel like all of this really matters as much. It's just a tennis match. It's just a tennis tournament. There out there is the real life. People I think forget about.

"Unfortunately, it's not breaking news anymore, so journalists are not interested in it."

In her last round, Kostyuk, now 21, held off a sturdy challenge from Elina Avanesyan to win 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. The victory put Kostyuk into her second Round of 16 at a major, her first since the 2021 French Open. 

In her physical, back-to-back three-set wins over Elise Mertens and Avanesyan, Kostyuk often looked like she was battling herself. She openly expresses her frustrations. Sometimes it's directed at her decision-making or failed execution. Other times it's the anguish of doing everything right and still losing a point. 

"Some days there's less, some days there's more," Kostyuk said. "We live and we learn."

But after years of coaches urging her to rein in her emotions, she's now embracing them under the guidance of her new coach, Sandra Zaniewska.

"People are different," Kostyuk said. "I am very emotional person. Not just a player.

"I feel like stacking up inside of me all the emotions that I have, I don't think it will ever work because I think I would just explode at some point. It might work for a little bit, but then all these emotions that I was hiding inside, I will either get injured or I will just have mental breakdown or whatever it is. It has consequences."

For Kostyuk, the outbursts are not only healthy, but they also help her stay engaged. It's how she competes.

"I'm just trying to find this right balance between letting go but coming back as soon as possible in the game again because it's normal," Kostyuk said. 

"I care. I want to win. I care a lot about this sport. I've given I don't know how many percent of my life for this sport since I'm 4 or 5 years old."

The stakes are high. Why would she pretend otherwise? A win means more points and more prize money. It means another opportunity to test herself and improve and break new ground.

"Obviously when you are Top 10 you have 5,000 points, it doesn't matter," she said. "In the position I'm in, it matters, and it's important to me. It's what I work for."

"I hope I will just be able to navigate this better. But I don't think necessarily I'll become a better player if I will be less emotional."