Aryna Sabalenka once again clarified that she doesn’t support the war or Belarus’ regime right now after reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals.
The Australian Open let her tennis do the talking as she cruised past Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-4 to reach her first Roland Garros semi-final.
Sabalenka was flawless throughout her 1 hour and 38 minute performance which sees her into the last four in Paris for the first time, where she will face Karolina Muchova.
However as expected it was what happened after the match that caused headlines as Sabalenka was waiting at the net for some kind of signal from Svitolina.
That didn’t happen though as Svitolina had her head down walking to her chair with the Ukrainian being booed by some of the fans inside Philippe-Chatrier.
After her win, Sabalenka said that going to the net was instinct and once again clarified her position that not only is she against the war but against Lukashenko, “I don’t know. It just was an instinct like I always do after all my matches,” Sabalenka said about the incident.
“Well, we played a lot of Fed Cups in Belarus. He was in our matches taking pictures with us after the match. Nothing bad was happening that time in Belarus or in Ukraine or in Russia. And I said it many times already, I’m not supporting war. I don’t want my country to be involved in any conflict.
“I said it many times, and you know where I stand, you know. You have my position. You have my answer. I answered it many times. I’m not supporting the war.
“And the thing that I don’t want sport to be involved in politics, because I’m just a tennis player, 25-years-old tennis player. And if I would like to be political I wouldn’t be here. I don’t want to be involved in any politics. I just want to be a tennis player.
“I mean, I don’t support war, meaning I don’t support Lukashenko right now.”
This is the strongest statement from Sabalenka yet about the war as she looks to focus on her Roland Garros campaign.
As for Svitolina, the Ukrainian thinks that Sabalenka waiting at the net inflamed the situation and admits she was expecting the boos, “Yeah, I think so, unfortunately,” Svitolina replied when asked whether Sabalenka’s actions encouraged the crowd’s booing.
“I don’t know, to be fair, what she was waiting, because my statements were clear enough about the handshake. Secondly, no, it was quite expected. I was expecting that. Whoever in this situation loses, I guess, gets booed, so I was expecting that. It was not a surprise for me.”
‘I felt disrespected’
Today was the first time Sabalenka held an open press conference since the second round.
The Australian Open said that she felt disrespected by journalists and felt her press conferences were turning into a political TV show, “Just the way I was made feeling and I felt disrespected,” Sabalenka stated.
“I felt like journalist try to put the words in my mouth. I didn’t feel comfortable. This is just the way I felt. No, I don’t regret the decisions. I felt really disrespected, and I felt really bad. I mean, Grand Slam, it’s enough pressure to handle, and I just tried to focus on myself, on my game.
“I really hope that you guys will understand me, my feelings. You know that I really respect all of you, and I always open. You can ask whatever you want. You will get all the information. But in the last press conference, I felt like my press conference became a political TV show, and I’m not expert in politics. I’m just a tennis player.
“Yeah, I just need to step back and just bring focus on my tennis and on my game. Yeah, and I feel good that I did it and I feel sorry for you guys that you didn’t have chance to chat with me. But I’m here today, and I am ready to give answers for every question you have.”
Sabalenka will hope that she can fully focus on her tennis as she is halfway to the calendar Grand Slam should she win the next two matches.
The next test is against Karolina Muchova which Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 1-0.
Asian Games Champion Qinwen Zheng Reveals Shock Departure Of Coach Fissette
China’s Qinwen Zheng says she feels ‘hurt’ by the decision of her former coach to end their collaboration in order to work with another player.
The US Open quarter-finalist had been working with Belgium’s Wim Fissette in recent weeks following the departure of Pere Riba who is now the coach of Coco Gauff. Fissette has a wealth of experience in women’s tennis after working with the likes of Kim Clijsters and Naomi Osaka. However, Zheng says she is now looking for a new mentor.
“I understand his decision, but my family and I feel hurt. Right now I don’t want to talk about this person (Fissette),’ journalist Bendou Zhang quoted her as saying.
Fissette is yet to comment on his departure. He had previously coached former world No.1 Osaka between 2019-2022 and during this period she won two of her four Grand Slam titles. The American-based Japanese player is on maternity leave from the sport and gave birth to her first child in July.
20-year-old Zheng is currently ranked 23rd in the world and won her maiden WTA title in Palermo earlier this year. She is the youngest player from her country to have reached the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in the Open Era following her run at Flushing Medows. This year she has beaten top 10 players Ons Jabeur and Daria Kasatkina.
Zheng’s latest career milestone is winning gold at the Asian Games on Friday. in the final, she defeated Zhu Lin 6-2, 6-4, in the blistering Hangzhou heat.
“The feeling was incredible,” Zheng said. “I’m really happy about that. That was not an easy match today and also yesterday (in semifinal against Alex Eala). All of them are good fighters.”
It is not clear who Zheng will be working with during the Asian swing.
Daria Kasatkina Criticises Decision To Not Use Roof At Sweltering Pan Pacific Open
Daria Kasatkina has taken a swipe at organizers at the Toray Pan Pacific Open for not using the roof to cover their premier court on Thursday due to the heat.
The Russian played her second round match against Despina Papamichail in temperatures around 30 degrees with the humidity making it feel even warmer. Kasatkina battled to a 6-4, 6-4, win after spending more than two hours on the court. She dropped serve four times in the match but managed to break Papamichail seven times en route to victory.
Speaking on the court following his latest tour win, the world No.13 admitted that she struggled in the conditions and implied that she believed the roof should have been closed to shield the players from the sun. Tokyo, which is where the tournament is staged, has experienced a record-breaking number of ‘extremely hot’ days this year with their autumn season being warmer than usual. Something that some warn could be a more regular occurrence due to climate change.
“We cannot do much about it. We are using the ice towels and some supplements to keep you hydrated. By at the end, you cannot fight with something you cannot control,” Kasatkina commented on the conditions during her on-court interview.
“I think in these kinds of conditions, if you have a roof, better maybe to close it. If you have these opportunities, better to use it than to make players almost die on the field.” She added.
Kasatkina is through to her seventh Tour quarter-final of the season. Awaiting her in the next round will be second seed Jessica Pegula who beat Spain’s Cristina Bucșa 6-1, 6-2, in her second round match on Wednesday. It will be only the second Tour meeting between the two players and their first on a hard court.
Elsewhere in Tokyo, another player to reach the last eight in France’s Caroline Garcia who beat Anhelina Kahlinina 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile, Anastasia Pavlychenkova defeated Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.
Barbora Krejcikova Does The Double In San Jose
After what has been a challenging past few weeks on the Tour, Barbora Krejcikova has returned to the winner’s circle by claiming both the singles and doubles titles at the San Diego Open.
The world No.13 battled to a marathon 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, win over Sofia Kenin in what was a clash of the former Grand Slam champions. Krejcikova was pushed to her limits throughout the two-and-a-half-hour clash with there being no break in the decider until the final game. It is the second singles title the Czech has won on the WTA Tour this season after Dubai and her seventh overall.
“Normally I wouldn’t be here,” said Krejcikova, who received a wild card to play in the tournament “I really want to thank them (the tournament organisers). It was very special. I really enjoyed my stay here.”
Krejcikova’s run to the trophy has also seen her score wins over Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins earlier in the week. She is the first player from her country to win the tournament.
Following on from that triumph, the 27-year-old then clinched the doubles title alongside compatriot Katerina Siniakova. The duo beat Collins and Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-4.
Krejcikova came into San Jose on a four-match losing streak which started at Wimbledon where she was forced to withdraw from her secound round clash due to a left leg injury.
“I came here with not really good statistics after my injury, I didn’t actually win any matches,” she said. “So I just came here and I pretty much was hoping and believing that I could get the first win and go from there. It’s pretty special to be sitting here having won [the title].”
It is only the second time in Krejcikova’s career that she has won both the singles and doubles titles at the same event. The first time she did so was at the 2021 French Open where her partner in the doubles was also Siniakova.
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