Sabalenka comes from the brink to upset Jabeur in WTA Finals opener

A point away from being 2-5 down in the final set on two occasions, Aryna Sabalenka fights back to score her 10th comeback win of the season

Aryna Sabalenka at the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas Aryna Sabalenka at the 2022 WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Texas Image Credit: AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Aryna Sabalenka has had a scrappy year. Even by her own statements, the Belarusian said it was a miracle that she made it to the top eight at the season-ending WTA Finals.

On Monday, Sabalenka showed more of that same fight and grit that got her to Fort Worth, Texas in her opening round-robin match against world No 2 Ons Jabeur.

Sabalenka came from the brink with Jabeur being a point away on two occasions to go up 5-2 and serve for the match. But the Belarusian fought back to fight for 4-4 and then went on to win the match 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-5 in two hours and 29 minutes.

The win improves Sabalenka’s record to 3-1against Jabeur, who is playing in the season-ending WTA Finals for the first time after making the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. It also marked Sabalenka’s19th career win over a top 10 player and was her 27th three-set match (win-loss record of 14-13) in 2022.

The Belarusian also has the most wins of comeback wins in 2022. Monday’s win was her 10th win from a set down this year, tying her with world No 1 Iga Swiatek and Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi for the same.

Speaking after her win, Sabalenka said she kept fighting and wanted to let Jabeur earn the victory.

“I’m just trying to enjoy every second being here, and I’m just trying to do my best and see what the last week of the season can bring,” Sabalenka said after the win as per the WTA Tour website. “I was just like, ‘Keep trying, keep fighting, and make sure that if she wants to win this match, she has to do something great, not like an easy win. And I think that’s why I put a little bit more pressure on her and in the key moments, I was able to win it.”

At the end of the first day of singles play, Sakkari and Sabalenka both have one win in the Nancy Richey Group. The two winners will play on Wednesday with the match having important implications for the semi-final qualifications.

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