Aryna Sabalenka staged a spectacular comeback against Spanish qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo to reach the semi-finals of the Ostrava Open WTA tournament on Friday.
The powerful Belarusian lost the first ten games to a fast, focused Sorribes Tormo and came within a point of losing another. But she miraculously recovered as she suddenly started to find the court with her groundstrokes and went on to take the next 12 games for a 0-6, 6-4, 6-0 win.
The day before, the world number 12 had already come back from 5-2 down in the third set against American teenager Coco Gauff.
“I just wanted to win at least one game,” said a laughing Sabalenka. “Everything went like I wasn’t on the court. I was out of the game and I didn’t know why.”
“Then I cooled down a bit, took one step back and tried to put a little bit more balls back and go through her backhand.”
“After I won three games in a row I knew this was a good sign and if I keep going the same way, I’ll find my game. And that’s what happened.”
In the semi-final, Sabalenka will take on Jennifer Brady, who beat Veronika Kudermetova 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-1.
Sabalenka’s compatriot Viktoria Azarenka swept Elise Mertens in straight sets.
The former world number one won 6-4, 6-1 just over a month after trashing Mertens 6-1, 6-0 at the US Open where she reached the final.
The 21st-ranked Belgian broke Azarenka’s first serve and went 4-2 up, but the 31-year-old world number 14 quickly quashed her hopes of a revenge.
Azarenka managed two breaks to win the first set 6-4 before sweeping Mertens 6-1 in the second, the result looking more clear-cut than the actual picture of the match.
“She started really, really well and I needed to adjust a bit,” said two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka.
“She played some really great points, I didn’t feel like I was doing much wrong, she was just hitting a lot of winners.”
“In there I tried to apply more pressure, to be aggressive, to take the opportunities when I can. And I served really well today,” she added.
In the Ostrava semi-finals, Azarenka will face Maria Sakkari of Greece who beat Ons Jabeur from Tunisia 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Maria Sakkari (GRE) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN) 3-6, 6-3, 6-1
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x4) bt Elise Mertens (BEL x7) 6-4, 6-1
Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x3) bt Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 0-6, 6-4, 6-0
Jennifer Brady (USA) bt Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-1
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