Aryna Sabalenka comes back to reach US Open quarterfinals

World No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka has scored another win to advance to the US Open quarterfinals.

Sabalenka took on Danielle Collins, making her first career appearance in the second week of the tournament, and bounced back from a tough opening set to emerge on the 19th in a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win -seed American on Monday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Sabalenka now meets Karolina Pliskova, known as ace-queen, in her second quarterfinal appearance of her career on Wednesday. Pliskova, 30, survived a three-hour match against her former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka earlier in the day to start the match.

“Somehow I came back in the second set,” said Sabalenka. “I said, ‘Keep trying,’ keep pushing me to keep trying and keep fighting. I think I did well.

“I’m just super happy with the win, especially with the level today.”

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates after defeating Danielle Collins at the US Open on September 5, 2022.
Aryna Sabalenka celebrates after defeating Danielle Collins at the US Open on September 5, 2022.
Getty Images

Similar to her second-round matchup with Kaia Kanepi, Sabalenka didn’t put up a great fight in the opener. Collins initially played a tighter and smarter game, taking a 4-1 lead before eventually securing the set in just over 40 minutes. While both players committed eight unforced errors each, Sabalenka’s over-the-top aggressiveness occasionally overwhelmed them, opening the door for Collins to take advantage.

However, Sabalenka channeled her strength more effectively in the middle set – especially after screwing up a guaranteed opening point in game two, which she eventually partially dropped due to two blistering aces from Collins. Sabalenka hit the touchline, dropped her racquet and grabbed her face in frustration.

Arina Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka has reached the quarterfinals of the US Open.
Larry Marano

After gaining more control of her game after that, Sabalenka took a 3-1 lead and, despite Collins bouncing back into the game, the 24-year-old won the following three games. Sabalenka cited the 4-3 play as a defining moment for her in the match, citing how she held at serve in a 22-point battle.

“I would say it was the key game,” she said. “I’m holding my serve. After that I thought, ‘Okay, if I hold my serve now, I still have a chance in this match.’ I think that kind of mentality helped me break them in the second game and then win the set.

“I would say in the third set there was more pressure on her than on me. Yes, but it was definitely the key game. This game gave me a lot more faith that I can win this match.”

Collins, who hadn’t lost a set in this tournament through Monday night, was struggling a little with her serve at this point. She made six double faults in the second set en route to 11 for the match.

Aryna Sabalenka reacts after beating Danielle Collins.
Aryna Sabalenka reacts after beating Danielle Collins.
Larry Marano

Sabalenka also switched racquets and required a medical timeout midway through the second set, which paid off as she secured the second set with an ace.

“I just felt like the racquet was super loose,” she said in her on-court interview.

It was the second spirited comeback of the Open for Sabalenka. The 2021 semifinalist saved two match points and fought back from a set deficit and a 5-1 deficit to win 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4 against Kanepi last Thursday. Since then, Sabalenka has had a freer demeanor that could serve her well if she keeps going.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.