Aryna Sabalenka roars past Belinda Bencic and credits ‘biomechanic guy’ for fixing her ‘f***ing serve’
Aryna Sabalenka gave a statement of her intent at the Australian Open by powering past Belinda Bencic to reach the quarter-finals.
The Belarusian began the season by winning a title in Adelaide and is yet to drop a set in 2023 as she bids to win a first Grand Slam title.
Sabalenka has been knocking on the door for several years, reaching back-to-back semi-finals at the US Open and the last four at Wimbledon in 2021, but is yet to make a final.
Last year she began the season struggling to land her serve in the court but everything appears to have come together and Sabalenka was superb in a 7-5, 6-2 victory over 12th seed Bencic, another in-form player, hitting 32 winners and only 18 unforced errors.
In fine form 💯
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2023
Consulting a biomechanical expert proved the key to fixing her serving issues and Sabalenka now sees it as a blessing in disguise.
“I worked so hard. Even when my serve was a disaster, I worked a lot on my serve. I kept trying, kept believing, kept changing. Then I worked on my biomechanics,” she said.
“I thought it was (my) mentality, but it wasn’t. We changed a lot of things on how we work on my serve. We tried so many different things.
“In the end of the season when I started working with the biomechanic guy, he helped me a lot.”
The world No 5 added: “I’m super happy that this thing with my serve happened to me.
“I was, in that moment, open for whatever. I was just like, ‘Please, someone help me to fix this f***ing serve. I’m sorry for swearing, but this is how it was.
“I want believe that the way I’m working right now, the way I’m on the court right now, this is the new beginning, and this is the next step. So I really want to believe that it’s going to really help me.”
The conditions at Melbourne Park this year are clearly favouring the power players and Sabalenka will be a big favourite to make the final from the bottom half, particularly following the exit of fourth seed Caroline Garcia in another upset.
Next up for fifth seed Sabalenka will be a clash with unseeded Croatian Donna Vekic, who ended the run of 17-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory.
Vekic was also a former teenage prodigy and made her debut here a decade ago but this is only her second Grand Slam quarter-final.
“It feels pretty good, I would say,” Vekic said after the match.
“I didn’t really really feel that I had much control in the second set but I knew that I had to keep fighting, hoping and believing that I would win.”
Former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova and Magda Linette will contest the other quarter-final in the quarter. The Czech defeated Zhang Shuai 6-0, 6-4 while Pole Linette upset fourth seed Caroline Garcia 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.
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