Aryna Sabalenka overcomes ‘crazy nightmare’ against Sloane Stephens

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates

Aryna Sabalenka hopes her entertaining clash with Sloane Stephens will convince the French public that women deserve more night sessions at Roland Garros.

French Open organisers have once again been criticised for the gender inequality in terms of scheduling as six of the seven night sessions have featured men this year with the Sabalenka-Stephens encounter the first women’s clash to be played in the evening at Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was a similar story last year with nine out of the 10 night sessions featuring men’s matches.

Sabalenka and Stephens, though, duo certainly produced an absorbing evening as the former initially raced into a 5-0 lead before her American rival countered with two breaks of her own to take the set to a tie-breaker.

The Australian Open champion held off the fighting Stephens to take the first set and then broke twice in the second set for a hard-fought 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory.

“I’m super happy with this win, especially against a tough opponent in Sloane. The first set was a little hit crazy, it was a nightmare,” Sabalenka said in the Eurosport Cube.

“It was something unbelievable and she played unbelievable tennis. I think I got a little bit lucky in the first set and it gave me so much power and belief for the second. I’m super happy with this win.”

As for being involved in the first women’s night match at Roland Garros this year, the world No 2 admits she was surprised that there was a big crowd.

“I didn’t feel extra pressure but I saw a couple of tweets from people saying they didn’t like how they’d put a woman’s match on at night,” she continued.

“So I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen or if people would come to watch us play. I was surprised there were a lot of people there going crazy. I think they enjoyed our match and will ask for a women’s match the next day.”

Next up for Sabalenka is Elina Svitolina as the Ukrainian continued her brilliant run with a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Daria Kasatkina.

Sabalenk added: “[Svitolina is] playing really great tennis here in Paris, moving well. Another player [that’s] gonna run a lot and put a lot of balls back, and I just have to be patient and wait for that perfect shot to finish the point.”

READ MORE: Aryna Sabalenka avoiding regular media duties citing mental health concerns

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