Aryna Sabalenka's status as a big-match player remains unquestionable as she powered through to another Grand Slam quarterfinal.
In her early 20s, Sabalenka flattered to deceive as she failed countless times to match pre-tournament hype. She stumbled but managed to pick herself up and try again. That persistence is finally paying dividends for the Belarusian powerhouse.
Since the 2022 US Open, Sabalenka has reached the quarterfinals or better at every Grand Slam tournament she participated in. She lost to Iga Swiatek in the semifinal that year in New York in three close sets. But her wait for a Grand Slam title ended at last year's Australian Open.
Sabalenka defeated Elena Rybakina in three sets to win her first major title. Incidentally, Sabalenka was the best-performing player on the WTA tour at the Grand Slams last season. Her record at the four most coveted tournaments in professional tennis read 23-3.
She was also the only woman who contested two major finals last year, finishing runner-up to Coco Gauff at the US Open in September. Sabalenka was also the only player who reached the semifinals or better in all the four Slams she played last year.
The clearest indication that 2023 was Sabalenka's best season of her career is that she led World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the WTA Race in 43 of 44 weeks and only narrowly missed out from clinching the year-end No. 1 ranking.
But Sabalenka's start to 2024 couldn't have gone any better. Her title defense is gathering momentum. With Swiatek already out of the picture after a shock loss to Linda Noskova, Sabalenka has now reached a sixth successive Grand Slam quarterfinal.
At 25, she is the youngest woman to achieve this monumental streak since former World No. 1 Amelie Mauresmo, who did it between the 2003 US Open and the 2005 Australian Open. Now that Sabalenka has emulated the retired Frenchwoman, she'll hope her purple patch continues in June when the French Open comes around.