Sabalenka Sets Up Rybakina Showdown In Beijing After Overcoming Major Struggles

Sabalenka Sets Up Rybakina Showdown In Beijing After Overcoming Major Struggles

by Evita Mueller

Last updated

Aryna Sabalenka had a lot of issues against Jasmine Paolini at the 2023 China Open but ultimately handled it well to win in two sets.

There were a lot of indications that this was going to be a complicated match for Sabalenka and it truly was. Paolini is a very tough player to beat because she's so competitive and rarely gives away matches. Sabalenka's playstyle is also quite streaky which allows her opponent at least some chances in every match.

If the opponent takes them, then we get one of these close wins, but it's a win, so she won't mind too much. The opening set was very close, with few chances on either side. Sabalenka had to save some early break points, which proved crucial. Towards the end of the set, Paolini faltered, and Sabaelnka seized that chance to win the opening set 6-4.

The second set was far more complicated for the Belarusian, even though initially, it looked like she would cruise. Sabalenka had an early break of 3-1 but allowed the Italian to fight back immediately. Things got very complicated when she dropped her serve once more to give Paolini a 5-3 lead but finally snapped that run with a solid service game.

Paolini failed to serve out the match at 5-4 but broke for the 6-5 lead and had one more chance. Once again the Italian couldn't close it out which is a common problem for her. She's had problems with her serve in the past and it's realistically a weakness for her.

Sabalenka forced the tiebreak and then outplayed her opponent to set the final score of 6-4 7-6(4). An overall good performance, but she'll need a bit more against Elena Rybakina, who is her next opponent. That is a rematch of their Australian Open final, though we've seen it in the Indian Wells final, too. Rybakina won that match.


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