July 16, 2024
Aryna Sabalenka

Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka saved three match points as she beat Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, the No 16 seed, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7) in a thrilling late-night encounter to reach the last eight of the Italian Open in Rome on Monday.

Svitolina recovered from 5-3 down in the third and had three match points, two at 6-5 and then another in the tiebreak as Aryna Sabalenka held her nerve to snatch the win on her second match point.
The world No 2 will face Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, the No 9 seed, next.

“The atmosphere was just another level,” Sabalenka said. “It was a great battle. Somehow I managed to win this match. I’m super-happy with this win. Hopefully I can recover for the next match.”

Svitolina came out firing in the first set, taking the match to Sabalenka and won it by the odd break, only for Sabalenka to roar back in the second, battering the Ukrainian’s serve as she levelled.

The third set was sensational tennis as first Sabalenka, who had treatment for a back issue at the end of the second set, recovered from 2-0, 30-0 down to lead 4-2 with stunning hitting, mixed with brilliant drop shots.
Svitolina did superbly to hang in there and when Sabalenka served for the match at 5-4, she took her chance, breaking to love, holding to love and then, at 6-5, having 15-40 on the Sabalenka serve and two match points.

But the Ukrainian missed a short slice on the first and a return on the second as Sabalenka held to force a tiebreak. Then it was the turn of the Belarusian to have her first match point at 6-5 in the tiebreak, only for Svitolina to save it with stunning defence.

Svitolina then had a third match point but couldn’t find the court with a forehand return and when Sabalenka got her second chance, she took it to clinch a dramatic victory.

The Belarusian beat American qualifier Katie Volynets (4-6, 6-3, 6-2) and Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, the No 32 seed (6-4, 6-2) ahead of her victory.

Earlier in the tournament, Svitolina, ranked No 19, won against Italian wildcard Sara Errani (6-0, 6-2) and Russian Anna Kalinskaya, the No 23 seed (6-3, 6-3).

Rome WTA 1000, other last 16 results (Foro Italico, clay, USD 5.509.771, most recent results first):

1.Victoria Azarenka (24) beat Maria Sakkari (5): 6-4, 6-1
2.Danielle Collins (13) beat Irina-Camelia Begu: 6-0, 6-3
3.Jelena Ostapenko beat Rebecca Sramkova (Q): 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (3)
4.Iga Swiatek (1) beat Angelique Kerber: 7-5, 6-3
5.Coco Gauff (3) beat Paula Badosa: 5-7, 6-4, 6-1
6.Qinwen Zheng (7) beat Naomi Osaka: 6-2, 6-4
7.Madison Keys (18) beat Sorana Cirstea (28): 6-2, 6-1

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