Sabalenka Reaches Maiden Roland Garros Semifinals After Besting Svitolina

Sabalenka Reaches Maiden Roland Garros Semifinals After Besting Svitolina

by Evita Mueller

For the first time in her career, Aryna Sabalenka will be playing in the Roland Garros semifinals after beating Elina Svitolina.

The Belarusian played in the semifinals of every Grand Slam tournament, except for one, the Roland Garros. However, coming into the 2023 event, Sabalenka had already one clay-court title in her pocket, after triumphing in Madrid earlier this year.

That gave her enough confidence in her shots to beat all of her opponents without losing a set and in her third meeting with Svitolina on the WTA Tour, she didn't want to change that stat, despite losing in their last H2H match, which also took place in France.

Going into the match, everyone was talking about Pandora's box that Sabalenka opened after she was allowed not to have a press conference. Naomi Osaka wasn't allowed the same thing only a couple of years ago, and the different approach made headlines over the past few days.

But as soon as the first ball was hit, all of the focus shifted to the Court Philippe-Chatrier because Sabalenka and Svitolina prepared a real show for the French crowd, which leaned behind the Ukrainian who's married to French player Gael Monfils.

Both players were quite comfortable on their service games in the first set, but that was only until the eighth game. The Belarusian felt her chance and Svitolina felt the pressure. That resulted in the only break point of the first set, and eventually, also in the first and only break of the set.

Thanks to that, Sabalenka was able to win the first set 6-4, but she couldn't follow up on that with a good start in the second set. It was Svitolina who led 2-0, and 30-0 in the second set, looking to force a decider.

But the World No. 2 was dictating the play and despite hitting seven more unforced errors than winners, her count of the shots that her opponent didn't get to stopped at 30, producing a convincing display.

After breaking the Ukrainian twice in the second set, Sabalenka won the match 6-4, 6-4 to reach her maiden Roland Garros semifinals, the only major semifinal she was yet to play. In a good mood, she joked after the match but also praised her opponent, who as expected, didn't shake her hand because of the geopolitical nature of the match.

"She's such a tough opponent, moving well, and what she's doing after the birth, big respect for her. The atmosphere was amazing. We all know you're waiting for Novak but I'll take it that it's for me."

The Belarusian talked also about focusing on herself, and fans are waiting to see whether that will be the case also after the match, or if this time, Sabalenka will attend a press conference.

"It's better to focus on myself, on my game. And if I feel I have to go for my shots, I will, no matter the score. But most likely, I will focus on myself and go for my shots."


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