'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.

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French Open: Jack Draper Serves Up Trouble and is Upset by Dutch Qualifier De Jong

Brit Draper loses his longest ever tennis match in only his second five-setter of his career.

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Jack Draper crashed out at the first hurdle at the French Open after a 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 3-6, 6-3 loss to world number 176 Jesper de Jong – a qualifier who had come through three rounds to reach the main draw – who next faces third seed Carlos Alcaraz. 

In a titanic tussle lasting over four hours, the British number two could not find any rhythm on his serve, getting just 50% of his first deliveries in while winning only 51% of his second serves – resulting in him being broken an alarming nine times over the five sets.

“My serve has been a problem this year,” said Draper after the match. “I’m trying to change it to make it better, and obviously I’ve made those changes in the last few weeks. So, it’s not comfortable, especially in a grand slam playing in a fifth set on a second serve. You know, the confidence isn’t there at the moment on my serve, and it’s a problem I’m going to have to work on with coaches and see where I can make it more consistent because, yeah, it’s really letting me down.”

Dutchman De Jong took the opening two sets and was heading for a surprising routine victory before Draper showed some admirable fight to win the third on a tie-breaker before taking control of the fourth to push the match into a decider after a one-hour rain delay.

Draper, still only 22 with huge potential, still has time to understand how to navigate the fluctuations of long five setters and will be disappointed with the outcome of the fifth when he threw in yet another double-fault at 30-40 down in the seventh game to hand his opponent the initiative.  “I battled my way back, started playing a decent level. There was a lot of ebbs and flows in the match. That’s five-set tennis. I’m kind of learning that the more I play,” he added. 

Elsewhere in other results, sixth seed Andrey Rublev dropped a set in a tough battle against Japan’s Taro Daniel and next faces Spain’s Pedro Martinez, while eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz survived going two sets to one down before coming through easily in five against Shintaro Mochizuki from Japan. 

Bulgaria’s 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov recorded a routine win against American Aleksandar Kovacevic and French veteran, and wildcard Richard Gasquet was arguably more impressive in his straight sets win over Borna Coric of Croatia and potentially plays second seed Jannik Sinner next. 

However, in perhaps the biggest upset of the day, French number one and 17th seed Ugo Humbert lost 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in a match close to three hours and in front of home fans on Suzanne-Lenglen stadium court. 

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard claims his first ATP title in Lyon

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard battled past sixth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 1-6 7-6 (9-7) in a thrilling final at the Open Parc tournament in Lyon. 

Mpetchi Perricard saved four break points in the first game of the opening set to hold serve at deuce. Etcheverry converted his third break point in the fifth game and held serve at love to take a 4-2 lead. Mpetchi Perricard won four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

Etcheverry broke three times to win the second set 6-1. 

The third set went on serve until the 11th game when Mpetchi Perricard converted his third break point to take a 6-5 lead. Etcheverry broke straight back to draw level to 6-6. Mpetchi Perricard was a point away from defeat at 6-7 in the tie-break of the third set, but he reeled off the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7 on his second championship point. 

Mpetchi Perricard won three Challenger Tour titles this year in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco. He beat Lorenzo Sonego, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hugo Gaston and Alexander Bublik en route to his first ATP Tour title in Lyon.

Mpetchi Perricard is the son of footballer player Ghislain Mpetchi, who is of Congolese origin. He sister Daphnée Perricard is also a tennis player. 

“It was crazy. It was a very good final. I was down in the second set, but I managed to do better. I am very happy to win this tournament and now I have a lot of confidence for Roland Garros”, said Mpetchi Perricard.

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Casper Ruud claims the third title of his career in Geneva

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Casper Ruud claimed the third title of his career at the Gonet Geneva Open after his previous triumphs at this tournament in 2021 and 2022. 

Ruud did double duty after rain postponed his semifinal match to Saturday. Ruud saved a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinal. He returned less than three hours to defeat Tomas Machac 7-5 6-3 in the final. Ruud clinched the ATP Tour title of his career. 

Machac went up a break in the third game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead. Ruud won three consecutive games from 4-5 down with two breaks in the first set after Machac committed a double fault while he was holding a set point on serve at 5-4. 

Ruud broke serve in the second game of the second set. The Norwegian player held on his next service games and served out the win on his first match point in 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Ruud improved to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Machac. “It was a challenging week. All the matches are tough, no matter who will play. It was tough to find a groove. The weather has been a bit challenging all week, but today was fantastic. I feel very happy to win again to win again here in Geneva. It’s been a very good season so far”, said Ruud. 

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