The win made it three in a row for the Belarussian over Krejcikova, the rivals facing each other for the fourth tournament in a row after match-ups in Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami. But the change in court surface from hard to the indoor clay of Stuttgart didn’t change the outcome as No.2 seed Sabalenka came through 6-2, 6-3.
It was a tense start to the match as both players shared the first four games on serve without making too many in-roads on the return. Sabalenka had been asking questions of the Krejcikova serve however, and her persistence paid off on her fourth break point in game six when the Czech player hit her first double fault of the match to hand Sabalenka the break.
The Australian Open champion seemed in a hurry to wrap up the opening set and raced into a 5-2 lead with her second love hold on the bounce. And she closed it out when breaking Krejcikova for a second time, finishing the first set on an impressive 10 winners to the Czech’s seven. The World No.2 was playing with real force and conviction and she underlined her domination by winning the first two games of set two, another Krejcikova double fault almost sealing her own fate.
The confidence was draining from Krejcikova and she did well to stop her opponent from making it seven games on the trot as she got her mark on the second set scoreboard by making it 1-3. The Czech raised a small glimmer of hope when getting to deuce on the Sabalenka serve but a big serve and a delicate touch had the Belarussian up 5-2 and within touching distance of the next round.
And, after failing to convert her first break point on Krejcikova's final service game of the match, Sabalenka made no doubt on her second chance as she smashed an ace down the court to move into the quarter-finals.