Aryna Sabalenka Extends Winning Run To Set Up Showdown With Rybakina In Abu Dhabi - UBITENNIS
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Aryna Sabalenka Extends Winning Run To Set Up Showdown With Rybakina In Abu Dhabi

The 22-year-old is yet to drop a set in the tournament as she bids to win her third title in a row.



Aryna Sabalenka (image via @WTAinsider)

Aryna Sabalenka has extended her unbeaten run on the WTA Tour to 12 matches after dismissing Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-4, in the third round of the Abu Dhabi Open.


The fourth seed was unstoppable during the start of the match after racing through the opening set in less than 30 minutes by dropping just six points behind her serve. However, Jabeur proved to be more problematic in the second frame by breaking Sabalenka twice and was at one stage leading 4-2. Despite those wobbles, the world No.10 retrieved both of those breaks before claiming four straight games to turn the tides and book her place in the quarter-finals.

“It was a tough one, but what I think I did well was I didn’t give her any time to play, to make her trick shots. That’s why I think she didn’t feel really well on the court,” quoted Sabalenka as saying after. “That’s what I needed at Roland Garros. The courts were really slow there and she had the time, and it was really tricky.
“I think that was the key for today’s win.”

Sabalenka’s victory is a case of sweet revenge after losing to Jabeur at the French Open in what was her least defeat on the Tour. Since then she has won titles in Ostrava and Linz. In her latest match she won 60% of her service points but did hit twice as many unforced errors than winners (20-10).

“Yeah, I’ve won 12 matches, but tomorrow’s another day, and I’ll do everything I can to win another one. I’m not afraid of losing. This is part of our job. But I’ll try to do everything I can to keep winning.” She said.

Awaiting Sabalenka in Monday’s quarter-final will be rising star Elena Rybakina who reached five WTA finals last season, winning the Hobart Open. The Kazakh eased through her third round match in just over an hour after dismissing Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-4. Rybakina broke the Russian three times, including twice at the start of the second set, to seal victory.

“Rybakina, she’s a really aggressive player with a big serve. It’s going to be a really tough one,” Sabalenka commented. “I’ll just need to be ready for her serves and quick shots, stay low and move really well.”

The upcoming match will only be the second time the two have locked horns on the Tour. In their first meeting at the 2019 Wuhan Open Rybakina prevailed in three sets.

Also through to the last eight is 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk who crushed Tamara Zidanšek 6-1, 6-1. The teenager is making her debut in a WTA 500 event and it is only the second time in her career she has reached the last eight of a WTA event. She is currently ranked 99th in the world.

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Injury-Hit Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Reaches French Open Quarters



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said ‘anything is possible’ after winning her marathon fourth round match against Elise Mertens at the French Open on Sunday. 


Pavlychenkova, who reached the finals of Roland Garros in 2021, bounced back from a set down to beat 28th seed Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, after more than three hours of play. The Russian struggled early on in the match after winning just two out of her first six service games. She found herself down 3-6, 1-3 (0-40), at one stage before producing a triumphant comeback. Overall, she hit 50 winners alongside 48 unforced errors. 

“I’m really proud of myself. It was an incredible match,” Pavlychenova said on the court afterwards. “Losing the first set and in the end, finding the strength to win.’
“I’m glad to be here playing on this court (Phillippe Chartier) again, especially after my injury. I didn’t play for a year so I am very happy to be here.”

The win comes after what has been a turbulent battle for Pavlychenkova over the past year with her fitness. In 2022 she missed eight months of the Tour due to a serious knee injury which prohibited her from walking or even sitting down. Fearing for the future of her career, she underwent successful knee surgery. 

Since beginning her comeback in January, the 31-year-old had only won eight matches in nine tournaments played, which include two at the ITF level, coming into Paris. Despite this, she has regained her form at Roland Garros with Mertens being the third consecutive top 30 player she has beaten after Liudmila Samsonova and Anastasia Potapova. 

“I was sure that I could do that,” she commented on her resurgence. “I’ve enjoyed playing here in Paris ever since I was a junior, especially on this court. I think mentally I am stronger than before. We will see where it goes from here.”

A former world No.11 player, Pavlychenkova’s belief in her game is still as high as ever as she refuses to rule out the possibility that she could stun the tournament by lifting the trophy next Sunday. 

“I think anything is possible, that’s why I’m here and that’s why I came back after my injury,” she stated. 
“Since last year in November, it has been difficult. But I’ve been practising well and I thank my team for getting me in this position.”

Currently ranked 333rd in the world, Pavlychenkova is the lower-ranked player to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam since Kaia Kanepi at the 2017 US Open. She will next play either Karolína Muchová or Elina Avanesyan. 

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Doubles Pair Disqualified From French Open Match



A women’s doubles match at the French Open on Sunday ended in tears with one of the pair being disqualified midway through the second set.

Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi were facing Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzková in the third round. After losing the opening set in a tiebreaker, the pairing worked their way to a 3-1 lead in the second before the match came to a sudden end.

After the end of a game, Kato hit a ball to the other end of the court which accidentally struck a ball girl in the head. The umpire then initially issued a warning to Kato. However, a protest from Tormo and Bouzkova who pointed out that the ball girl was crying resulted in the tournament supervisor being called to the court. Both Tormo and Bouzkova were heard saying that Kato should receive a default.


 After a discussion, it was decided that Kato and Sutjiadi would be defaulted from the match due to a violation of the rules, giving the opponents the win. Naturally upset by the accident, Kato was left in tears when informed about the decision with her partner consoling her.

Kato did speak with the ball girl shortly after the incident to make sure she was fine. This occurred before the supervisor entered the court. 

According to the Grand Slam rulebook, ball abuse is defined as ‘intentionally hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”

It is not the first time a player has been defaulted from a Grand Slam match after accidentally hitting an official on the court. The most famous incident was when Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2020 US Open after hitting a ball hit a female lines judge in the neck. He was later fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

 Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them. 


Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings. 

“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference. 
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”

Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.

“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”

It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14. 

Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent. 

“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent. 
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday. 

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