Sabalenka reaches first US Open quarter-final; to meet French Open champion Krejcikova

The winner of the Sabalenka-Krejcikova quarter-final clash will become the WTA leader for most victories in 2021

Arnya Sabalenka of Belarus reacts after winning a point against Danielle Collins of the United States (not pictured) on day five of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

In her first 14 Grand Slam main draw appearances, Aryna Sabalenka had never made it past the fourth round. Now, she is through to her second consecutive quarter-final at a Major after a straight-sets win over good friend and occasional doubles partner Elise Mertens.

Playing the third match on Louis Armstrong Stadium, second seeded Sabalenka scored a 6-4, 6-1 win over Mertens in one hour and 11 minutes. That puts the hard-hitting Belarusian into her first-ever US Open quarter-final, coming right after she reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

“I’m just really happy to be in the quarter-finals here because I really like playing at the US Open, especially with the crowd and the atmosphere is really enjoyable here. So, I’m really happy to be in the quarter-finals here at the US Open. Of course it’s a little bit different, because at the Wimbledon, it was my first time in the quarter-finals, so it was kind of something new. It’s still something new for me, because at the US Open it’s the first time, but it’s already second time, so the second time feels a little bit different, you know.”

As with most of her matches, it was Sabalenka who dominated the stats, hitting 22 winners as well as 21 unforced errors, while Mertens had 13 winners and 16 unforced errors on her tally.

Sabalenka and Krejickova tie Barty with 42 wins in 2021

With the win, Sabalenka improves to 6-2 lifetime against Mertens, with whom she has won 2 Grand Slam doubles titles including the Australian Open this year.

The victory also marked her 42nd win of the season, tying her with Ash Barty for most wins on the WTA this year. While Sabalenka is 42-14 for the year, Barty, who lost in the third round on Saturday, is 42-8.

Czech Barbora Krejcikova also joined Sabalenka and Barty on 42 wins a couple of hours later as the Czech defeated Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 7-6 to advance to the quarter-final against Sabalenka.

Sabalenka, who said she had worked really hard to get where she is during her on-court interview, spoke about some of the things she has been working in recent years, including her work with a psychologist. saying she is more open and accepting her fears.

“Well, we are working a lot on the practice courts, like trying to prepare myself for long rallies. So I’m like moving a lot, hitting a lot of balls, trying to be ready for these points, for big points – because every player (is) trying to move me, and they know that they have to move me, and only like this is the way they can beat me. I’m trying to prepare for that. That’s what I mean, like I’m working, I don’t want to say it again, but I’m working so hard to be here, I have worked so hard to be here.”

“Also, with this psychologist, there is so many things you have to be honest with, and you have to be open with your psychologist, telling all the truth. Because before I was trying to like be, like, Oh, I don’t afraid of anything or anybody. Like I don’t think about this, that, and that. And this wasn’t like really right. And right now I’m really open, and I don’t afraid to be open. This is the most important thing.”

Krejcikova continues purple patch with win over Muguruza

Barbora Krejcikova at the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Barbora Krejcikova at the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

In the final evening session match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday, French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova continued her incredible run in 2021 with a 6-3, 7-6 win over two-time Grand Slam winner Muguruza in one hour and 54 minutes. The Czech woman improved to 42-11 with her win and is now tied with Sabalenka and Barty for the most wins on the WTA Tour in 2021.

Since winning the WTA title in Strasbourg in May, the 25-year-old has been on a tear. She made a surprising run to win her first Grand Slam singles title at the French Open, reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, won in Prague, and reached the last 16 at the Olympics and the quarter-finals at Cincinnati – each time losing to the eventual champion.

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