Aryna Sabalenka: ‘I don’t know why everyone thought I was a hard-court specialist’

Aryna Sabalenka

Aryna Sabalenka overcame an early wobble to secure a 6-4, 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina in the quarter-finals of the French Open and says that she has always fancied the clay.

Ukraine’s Svitolina currently lives in France and enjoyed a stellar run upon her return to Grand Slam competition.

However, she proved no match for one of the form players of the WTA Tour right now in, Aryna Sabalenka.

Aryna Sabalenka, who had never progressed beyond the third round in Paris in five prior appearances, has yet to lose a set in her five matches at Roland Garros this year.

For a place in her second Grand Slam final of the year, she’ll next face unseeded Karolina Muchova, herself a former Top 20 player, after the Czech beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Tuesday’s other quarter-final.

The victory means Sabalenka has now reached the last four at all four Grand Slams.

Sabalenka achieved her 50th career victory on clay, improving her record to 50-22 on the surface at the tour level.

Sabalenka has dominated all five of her encounters so far this fortnight, winning 10 out of 10 sets.

The 25-year-old, who follows Serena Williams (2002, 2003, 2015), Victoria Azarenka (2013), Justin Henin (2007), and Jennifer Capriati (2001, 2002), is the fifth woman in this century to win the first 12 Grand Slam matches of the year.

Sabalenka has reached three consecutive major semi-finals and has an unblemished record in five Grand Slam quarter-finals.

The No 2 player in the world has also won all four Grand Slam semi-finals, completing the major box set.

She credited the fight of Svitolina after the match and felt that the result was a big win for her.

“She’s such a tough opponent, moving well, and what she’s doing after giving birth is impressive, big respect to her,” Sabalenka said.

“It was such a tough match, super happy with the win.”

Sabalenka believes that focusing too much on her opponents can be a problem for her and she prefers to try to play her own game.

“I think for me, it’s better to focus on myself, my game,” Sabalenka added.

“If I feel like I have to go for my shots, then I’ll go for it, no matter the score. Of course we prepare tactics, but during the match it depends on the score, depends on the game, if I need to change it a little bit.”

Sabalenka says that she has always been comfortable on clay and doesn’t understand why some perceive her as a hard court player.

“When I was a kid, I practised more on the clay than on hard courts,” Sabalenka revealed.

“I don’t know why everyone thought I was a hard-court specialist. Hopefully I can go as far as possible here, I just want to stay here as long as I can and bring my best tennis.”

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