A semi final spot up for grabs for the winner of this one. The high stakes nature of the match showing in the Double fault count which was unacceptably too high. 19 for Sabalenka and 8 for Maria.With both serving at a low 58% on first serve, it is no surprise we witnessed the first break of serve in the very first game. Watch 40-15 first point of the first set. Watch were Maria is standing waiting for the serve, way off the baseline in clear anticipation of the flat power serve. Why couldn’t Aryna change tact and serve slower and cross court to the forehand?. Maria took aim at the Saba backhand return on the ad court as the Belarusian’s weak point. Watch 1-0(30-40) to save break point nut only for that moment as Saba won the break at deuce. The low pressure balls coming to the fore at 2-1(0-15), Sakkari misjudging the bounce. First set going to a breaker which was disappointingly one sided. The way Sakkari plays on the front foot , positive and assertive made sure the tie break was sewn up in no time. Why hit the forehand with no topspin though Aryna at 6-1?
If it worked against Swiatek, why don’t we change the shirt again against Sakkari? Check out 3-3(30-15), watch the movement from Sabalenka. Although she leaves a gapping space on the right side for Maria to aim the backhand down the line, she chooses the correct side to smash home the backhand winner. Thoroughly deserving from the break was Aryna. It was followed by her best game of the match at 4-3, some stunning winners in that one. She was cruising to the third set until she bottled it again at 5-4 and 6-5. The second set needed a tie break to separate them again and with her fragile confidence you kind of feared for the world number two. To her credit she held on to 6-6 when she got the crucial mini break. Boy was she made to work for it. Sakkari’s mobility asking the extra question.
In the third set it looked like the momentum was with Aryna getting the break early at 2-1. The double faults came up once again and the odd error here and boom it was 5-3 Sakkari with Saba serving to stay in the match. Sabalenka’s inconsistency on serve on show in losing the match to love. It may stem from the fact that she has not won a first set in these championships and was always fighting to get back into the matches. Sakkari adds her name into the hat for the semis and will face Anett Kontaveit. It is an all Spanish semi in the other match with Muguruza taking on Padosa.