Aryna Sabalenka overcomes ‘crazy nightmare’ against Sloane Stephens
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.”
Watch every moment from Roland-Garros LIVE and exclusive ondiscovery+, Eurosport and Eurosport App
Rafael Nadal looks set to play Australian Open as travel plans revealed in big comeback update
Rafael Nadal’s travel plans ahead of the 2024 season have been finalised, according to a report.
‘Jannik Sinner is a millimetre from Novak Djokovic – Nole fears him’, claims Slam winner
A French Open winner thinks Jannik Sinner has almost reached Novak Djokovic’s level.
Why the return of Sky Sports will provide a massive profile boost for tennis in the UK
Kevin Palmer explains why the return of tennis to Sky Sports will be good for the sport in the UK and Ireland.
Boris Becker highlights four young ATP stars ‘you will hear a lot from in the coming year’
Boris Becker has named the four leading young ATP players.
ITIA confirms Novak Djokovic did not refuse doping test at Davis Cup Finals
The ITIA has explained why Novak Djokovic did not break anti-doping protocol at the Davis Cup Finals.
WATCH: ‘Terrible singer’ Leylah Fernandez’s hilarious karaoke version of Journey classic
Have fun listening to Leylah Fernandez ‘signing’ Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.
The 13 WTA players whose last title was remarkably a Grand Slam: Coco Gauff, Emma Raducanu and more…
There are four active players whose last title was a Grand Slam.
Jannik Sinner underlines Darren Cahill’s key contribution to his sensational growth
Jannik Sinner praises Darren Cahill for giving him confidence.
‘Mr Novak Djokovic must be suspended. You don’t have the right to refuse testing’
Novak Djokovic under fire for refusing to provide a sample before one of his matches.
Former partner of David Nalbandian breaks her silence in explosive stalking and sexual harassment case
Nalbandian is back in the headlines once again after it emerged he is being sued by ex-girlfriend Araceli Torrado.