In the top half of the Abu Dhabi Open, Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari set up a semi-final showdown. The Belarusian fourth seed won a three-setter against the sixth-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. Sabalenka prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
The world no. 10 has now won her last 13 matches going back to the 2020 season. In fact, she has now been undefeated since her third-round exit at the French Open. Sabalenka finished the match with 30 winners to her opponent’s 24 with 37 unforced errors to Rybakina’s 27.
Analysing the start of her season in her post-match press conference, Sabalenka noted, “I’m really happy that already at the beginning of the season I’ve played against different styles. That’s really good, and I’m really happy.
It’s giving me a lot of advantage. It’s perfect to start the season like that after the pre-season. I will prepare myself, doesn’t matter who I’m playing against. My coach is preparing me really well and I know I will be ready for each player”.
Sabalenka will count her chances against the ninth-seeded Sakkari since she enters the match with a 3-1 win-to-loss record against her. However, Sakkari’s upset over the top-seed Sofia Kenin should bolster her confidence.
Sakkari wrapped a comeback win over the world no. 4, 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. This was also Sakkari’s first win against the American and her fifth win over a player ranked inside the top-five. In her post-match presser, Sakkari said, “I think I was rushing a little bit too much at the beginning of the match.
I didn’t really know what I had to do once I saw that what I was doing wasn’t working. I tried a different way that actually worked. I tried to be more solid and make more balls. I think I did way too many errors and I was hitting too big when I didn’t have to.
But I’m glad that once again I found the way to turn the match around”. Then, speaking about her game so far into the year, Sakkari added, “…Up until last year I couldn’t really control my power so I had to take a little bit of pace off because I was hitting too hard and I was missing many shots.
So, I think I’ve found a way and I’ve found my real pace on the court. When I have an opportunity, I go for it and that builds confidence”.
Abu Dhabi Open: Veronika Kudermetova pips Elina Svitolina
In the second half of the draw, Marta Kostyuk and Veronika Kudermetova will face-off for a place in the final.
In yet another three-setter of the day, the Ukrainian reached the first WTA semi-final of her career beating the last Spaniard left in the draw – Sara Sorribes Tormo. The 18-year-old bounced back from a bagel in the first set to win 0-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Meanwhile, the final quarter-final at the Abu Dhabi Open between Veronika Kudermetova and the second seed Elina Svitolina also went the distance. Kudermetova eventually eked out a rebound victory of her own, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6(3).
The Russian held the upper hand twice in the deciding set and even served for the match in the 12th game but was broken right back on both occasions. In the final set tie-break, the Russian raced ahead and quickly brought up three match points. This time around, there were no comebacks in store for Svitolina. Photo Credit: WTA Insider