Sun, 24 Sep 2023

No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka reaches first French quarterfinal

Field Level Media
05 Jun 2023, 07:40 GMT+10

No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Sloane Stephens 7-6 (5), 6-4 on Sunday night in Paris to advance to her first French Open quarterfinal.

The reigning Australian Open champion improved to 11-0 at Grand Slam events this season. She will face unseeded Elina Svitolina of Ukraine for a spot in the semifinals at Roland Garros.

Sabalenka sprinted to a 5-0 lead in the opening set only to see Stephens sweep the next five games. Sabalenka also fell behind 5-4 in the tiebreak before taking the next three points.

"It was a crazy first set," Sabalenka said in her on-court interview after the match. "I was lucky to win the first set."

In the second set, Sabalenka secured the decisive break in the ninth game and then finished off the match in 1 hour and 43 minutes.

"It was a really tough battle, and that she came back from 0-5, it says a lot that she's a great fighter and that she's not going to give me that win easily," Sabalenka said.

Sabalenka finished with a decisive 24-5 edge in winners, helping her to offset 40 unforced errors.

Sabalenka split her two previous meetings with Svitolina, who advanced to the final eight here for the fourth time with a 6-4, 7-5 (5) defeat of No. 9 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia.

Svitolina, coming off her title at Strasbourg last month, extended her winning streak to eight matches. She also improved to 7-0 in her career against Kasatkina, a semifinalist last year in Paris.

The 28-year-old Svitolina also reached the quarterfinals in 2015, 2017 and 2020 but is still looking for her first Grand Slam title. She is competing in only her fifth tour-level event since returning from maternity leave.

"I don't have that pressure that I used to have before," Svitolina said. "Of course, me personally, I put pressure for myself because I want to win a Slam. This is the ultimate goal for me.

"But definitely not the pressure from outside. No one expects that I'm going to come into Roland Garros and make quarterfinal at the beginning of the tournament. That's why I feel like this really helps me. I feel almost like I'm 17 again coming on the tour fresh. I'm not defending any points. Not here, not next week. Definitely, I feel more free."

Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova outlasted No. 28 Elise Mertens of Belgium 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-3, and Karlina Muchova of the Czech Republic eliminated Russia's Elina Avanesyan 6-4, 6-3.

--Field Level Media

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