'This Is Not My Final Goal' - Aryna Sabalenka Reacts To Achieving Career Milestone At Wimbledon - UBITENNIS
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‘This Is Not My Final Goal’ – Aryna Sabalenka Reacts To Achieving Career Milestone At Wimbledon

After her previous disappointments in major tournaments, Sabalenka looks to gaining in both momentum and confidence at The All England Club.

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Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) celebrates her win against Elena Rybakina (KAZ) in the fourth round of the Ladies' Singles on No.3 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 7 Monday 05/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Playing in her 15th Grand Slam main draw Aryna Sabalenka has reached her maiden quarter-final after ousting Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon.

 

The world No.4 held her nerve to prevail 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, after almost two hours of turbulent play which featured continuous changes of momentum. In the end it was Sabalenka’s sheer power combined with a lapse in Rybakina’s mentality that saw her over the finish line. Overall, she produced a total of 10 aces and 33 winners

“Against Elena it’s really important to serve well because she’s serving really well. It’s really tough to do something on her serve,” Sabalenka reflected during her press conference. “I’m really happy with the third set, in the last two games, I was dominating. I kind of put her under pressure. I was staying aggressive. I was following my game.”

Sabalenka got off to a tentative start as both players struggled with their nerves. Exchanging breaks of serve at the start, the second seed looked to be in for a stern test. However, Rybakina’s unforced error count was her undoing throughout the opener. A nightmare service game from the Kazakh enabled Sabalenka to break once again with ease for a 3-2 lead. Towards the business end a deep backhand return granted her two two set points with the Belarussian prevailing on her first opportunity thanks to a double fault from her rival.

A brief interruption to the match then occurred when Rybakina left for a comfort break which did wonders to her game. When she returned the world No.20 was hitting the ball more cleanly as she worked her way to a 2-0 lead at the start of the second frame. However, the roller-coaster continued with Sabalenka hitting back with interest as she eventually levelled 3-3 before dropping serve once again in the following game. Prompting a huge roar of frustration from her. Meanwhile, Rybakina stayed composed to take the proceedings into a decider.

In their two previous meetings Sabalenka was also taken to three sets before prevailing in Wuhan (2019) and Abu Dhabi (2021). To add to the drama this time round there was a confrontation between Rybakina and the umpire over an unreturned serve which was originally called out before hawk-eye ruled it on. However, the official decided not to award the point and instead called for a reply.

Despite the tussle between the two, it was one-way towards the closing stages as Sabalenka won 12 points in a row. Elevating her game, she capitalised on a serious lapse in concentration from her opponent who ended up receiving a code violation for ball abuse. On her first match point she triumphed with the help of a forehand volley.

“In the last game when I was up 30-Love I was almost crying because at that moment I felt like everything was going well. I was a few points from my first personal goal in the Grand Slams,” she said.

Whilst she has won 10 WTA titles during her career, Sabalenka has previously struggled when it comes to playing in major events. In fact, before this year’s Wimbledon she had only reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam once before.

“This is not my final goal. I’m trying to be happy but at the same time be focused and be ready for the next one because it’s also not an easy match,” Sabalenka stated.

The 23-year-old faces a stern test next against a resurgent Ons Jabeur who has already scored wins over Garbine Muguruza and Iga Swiatek in the tournament. She is the first Arab woman in history to reach the last eight of Wimbledon. Sabalenka is tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head but won their most recent meeting earlier this year in Abu Dhabi.

“I‘m not really actually thinking to be honest about this quarter-final. I’m just trying to focus on my game and think about what I have to do tomorrow to win that match.” She concluded.

Sabalenka could exit Wimbledon as world No.1. Although to do so she needs to win the title and Ash Barty must lose her quarter-final match.

ATP

Vasek Pospisil survives scare at Citi Open

The Canadian battled back from a set down in what was a tricky opening encounter.

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Vasek Pospisil was pushed to limits by qualifier Emilio Gomez in his opening match at the Citi Open.

The Canadian required three sets to beat the Ecuadorian qualifier 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 after two hours and 11 minutes of play. He hit a total of 10 aces en route to the second round.

 

” It’s always good to get through a tough one and I felt dialed in during the second set,” said Pospisil. “I was a little bit distracted during the first set but I am glad to get match play and getting the win is important so I am happy I got it done”.

The first three games of the opener went on serve and at 2-1 the Canadian had three chances to take an early break but the world number 165 saved all three and held serve. At 3-3, Pospisil played a poor service game and Gomez took full advantage by breaking him at love. That one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the first set.

The Canadian was determined to stay alive in the second and broke the Ecuadorian early to take a 2-0 lead and managed to turn it into a double break for a commanding 4-0 lead. Gomez got one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the world number 61 would serve out the second set to force a decider.

The third set started with three breaks of serve but it was the Canadian that was finally able to hold serve and consolidate a break. That break was enough for him to serve out the match and complete the comeback.

Pospisil will next face the young American Sebastien Korda in the third round who is the 12th seed this week in the American capital.

” It’s going to be a tough one because he is playing some great tennis this year and he is an up and comer and a great player,” he said of Korda. “I will have to play really well to win that one because he is a dangerous player so I will have to serve well and return well”.

Other results

It was a busy day one at the Citi Open being held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC with some thrilling matches. Kei Nishikori beat Sam Querrey in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 and Marcus Giron pulled a three-set comeback against Ilya Marchenko 4-6, 6-4, 7-6.

In the battle of the Belorussians, Ilya Ivashka beat Egor Gerasimov in straight sets 7-5, 6-4. Meanwhile, Jenson Brooksby avenged a loss to the South African Kevin Anderson by beating him in straight sets 7-5, 6-3.

Andreas Seppi needed three sets to dispatch Yasutka Uchiyama of Japan 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, Ricardas Berankis beat the American qualifier Mitchell Kreuger in straight sets 7-6, 6-2, and Daniel Elahi Galan beat another American Tommy Paul in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.

Finally, in the last match of the day an American favourite, Jack Sock advanced to round two after his Japanese opponent Yoshito Nishioka was forced to retire due to injury during their match.

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ATP

John Isner Wins 16th ATP Title In Atlanta

The 6ft 10 American got revenge on his American opponent for the loss he suffered last week in Los Cabos.

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John Isner has continued his love affair with the Atlanta Open by ousting Brandon Nakashima to win the tournament for a record sixth time.

 

The sixth seed beat the American teenager 7-6, 7-5 in one hour and 57 minutes. Firing a total of 21 aces and winning 81% of his first-serve points en route to the victory.

“I think if you count the last two weeks playing singles and doubles I played 12 matches in about 10 or 11 days so I have played a lot which is exactly what I need,” Isner said following his win. “Hopefully I can take this and go forward and build some momentum for tournaments ahead.’
This tournament has meant everything to my career it’s amazing”. He added.

The first set was extremely tight and neither player gave an inch in their respective service games. The opener was decided by a tiebreaker which Isner is accustomed to. Whilst the first set was tight, the tiebreaker was an even tighter affair Isner squeezing out a 10-8 win to take the first set 7-6.

Again the second set was competitive and again neither player got an edge on their return game. It was only at 5-4 that the Dallas, Texas native found himself at triple match point but the world number 115 saved all three.

Nakashima would save a fourth before holding serve and at 6-5, the world number 35 earned a fifth match point. That’s where he closed out the match and sealed the win and the title.

After the match, Isner was asked about his history of playing numerous tiebreakers throughout his career.

” I play a lot of those and it’s a situation I am comfortable in since I have been on tour forever,” he explained. “Honestly I think today (Sunday) I was just a little bit luckier and that’s what It really came down to. It’s amazing to be out here again playing on a Sunday and it was awesome”.

Isner confirmed that he will not be making the trip to Washington, DC for the Citi Open and instead he will take a week off after playing back-to-back tournaments in Los Cabos and Atlanta. He is next scheduled to be in Toronto for the National Bank Open.

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ATP

Casper Ruud Set For Career-High Ranking After Clay Court Hat-Trick

The young Norweigan player is closing in on his top-10 debut following his surge in success on the Tour.

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As some of his peers battle it out in Tokyo at the Olympic Games, Norway’s Casper Ruud has become a dominant force on the European clay.

 

The 22-year-old battled his way to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Pedro Martinez in the final of Kitzbuhel on Saturday to claim his 12th win in a row on the Tour. It is the third consecutive week where Ruud has won a title after also triumphing at the Nordea Open and Swiss Open Gstaad. The surge in success has made him the first man to have won three ATP titles within as many weeks since Andy Murray did so back in 2011.

“I am shaking all over my body. It feels amazing,” Ruud told atptour.com. “I was very nervous at the end, I knew what I was playing for. Three in a row is something special. What a day to play the final, rain on and off all day.
“I’m just very excited and happy that these three weeks are over, and that I won all of them.”

All three tournaments Ruud has won are ATP 250 events but only once did he play a top 50 player. That was Benoit Paire whom he defeated 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, in the quarter-finals at Gstaad. In Kitzbuhel, he defeated Mario Vilella Martínez (No.167), Mikael Ymer (No.99), Arthur Rinderknech (No.91), and Martinez (No.97).

During his clash with Martinez, the match was interrupted by the rain and it didn’t end until 11:30 PM local time.

“It was tough… we know that the weather was a bit shaky so I was prepared [for the delay],” Ruud said. “It was a bit long there in the end. We came back, only played three games, and then we had to stop again. It was a bit annoying, but we had to keep the focus and try your best. It’s the same for the opponent.”

Ruud has now won four ATP titles this season after also triumphing at the Geneva Open back in May. Since the start of the 2020 season, he has won 45 matches on the clay and has defeated three top 10 players – Stefanos Tsitsipas, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini.

The Norweigan is now set to rise to a career-ranking high of 12th when the standings are updated on Monday. He will also go up to eighth place in the ATP Race to Turin.

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