'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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Alexander Zverev reaches the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fifth consecutive year

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Alexander Zverev edged past Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in a hard-fought match on Court Suzanne Lenglen to reach the fourth round for the fifth consecutive year at Roland Garros. 

 

Zverev had reached the quarter finals in 2018 and 2019 and the semifinals in 2021. 

Zverev had saved a match point and came back from two sets down to beat Sebastian Baez in the second round. 

The match between Zverev and Nakashima featured just three breaks of serve, including a trade of breaks in the third set. Zverev fended off two break points in each of the first two sets. 

Zverev broke in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead with a backhand winner and held serve to take a two-set lead. Zverev earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Nakashima broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Seven of the 12 points went against serve in the tie-break. Zverev came back from 2-4 down in the tie-break and closed out the tie-break 7-5 with a backhand winner after 2 hours and 48 minutes.

“I think I raised my level today. I prefer this compared to the second round thriller. This is much better for me. I don’t lose too much hair. I can still grow old”, said Zverev. 

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Doubles Player Dream French Open Debut Ended By Instagram Message

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral said he found out he will not be playing in Paris through social media.

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Francisco Cabral - Image via https://twitter.com/EstorilOpen/

Playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam is the pinnacle of many players’ careers but one player missed out on that opportunity due to an unfortunate situation. 

 

Portugal’s Francisco Cabral was set to play in the men’s doubles tournament for the first time at this week’s French Open. The world No.72 is currently at a career-high after winning his maiden Tour title in Estoril last month with compatriot Nuno Borges. In Paris, he entered into the draw alongside Denmark’s Holger Rune. 

However, shortly before he was set to make his Grand Slam debut Rune pulled out at the last minute. Leaving Cabral unable to look for another partner in such a short time. Rune’s withdrawal from the doubles was based on medical advice after he hurt his ankle during his second round clash against Henri Laaksonen. The Dane tripped over the court cover at the back of the court but fortunately wasn’t seriously injured and managed to continue playing. 

“Right now I feel a huge sadness because it’s a dream to play in a Grand Slam tournament. I’ve been here since Saturday training, waiting, watching games, experiencing a new world because it was my first Grand Slam and it’s another dimension and I was really, really looking forward to being able to play,” Cabral told Raquetc. “And having waited until 15 minutes before game time to know that I wasn’t going to play after all, it cost me a lot, but I did everything I could.”

Caral went on to criticize the behavior of Rune who informed him that he would not be playing in the doubles event via a message sent on Instagram. It is unclear why the two never spoke face-to-face. 

“He only told me that he had sprained his foot, that he was at the doctor’s, and that he had told him not to play the doubles. I’m sad about his attitude because he didn’t even say this to my face, he just sent me a message on Instagram. I don’t think it went well, but as I said, I couldn’t have done anything differently, so I’ll just wait for the next opportunity.” He said. 

25-year-old Cabral is targeting Wimbledon as the event where he will play his first main draw match. 

Meanwhile, Rune will continue his singles campaign at Roland Garros on Saturday when he plays Hugo Gaston in the third round. The former world No.1 junior has shot up the rankings this season to a high of 40th. 

Cabral and Rune has been replaced in the draw by Sander Arends and Szymon Walków. 

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.

 

A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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