Sabs back from the brink to down Svitolina

FACING three match points, world number two Aryna Sabalenka found a way to win against Elina Svitolina in Rome last night, reaching the quarter finals of the WTA 1000 event. Two-time winner Svitolina looked in control late in the deciding set when having two match points in the 12th game, before having another chance leading 7-6 in the tiebreaker. However Sabalenka dug deep to win the last three points of the match and close it out 9-7.

The final score of 4-6 6-1 7-6 was fitting of the match, with both the second and 16th seeds having their chances throughout the match, but it took until the final moments of the match to decide the contest. Sabalenka also had a match point chance when going 6-5 up in the tiebreaker, but the Ukrainian saved both points, before the world number two finished on a high.

“I gave it all today,” Sabalenka said post-match. “I couldn’t give up. I couldn’t leave the court. I felt like if my body allows me to play even 15 percent of my best tennis, I’m going to stay there, I’m going to fight.”

Sabalenka was not without her injury issues though, as she took considerable time out after winning the second set to get work on her lower back and hips. Recovering well from that, she held on in an epic battle.

“I was thinking it’s a challenge to fight through whatever I had on the court,” said Sabalenka, “and if I’m able to fight through it then I’m a really strong person. I’m really proud of myself today.”

Sabalenka will now take on Latvian power player Jelena Ostapenko, who also overcame a first set deficit to put away Slovakian qualifier Rebecca Sramkova in three sets. Ostapenko won 4-6 6-4 7-6 for the ninth seed to reach the quarter finals, while the in-form Danielle Collins smashed Irina-Camelia Begu 6-0 6-3, and Victoria Azarenka crushed Maria Sakkari to face off in the other bottom half quarter final.

In the top half of the draw, Chinese talent Qinwen Zheng ended former number one Naomi Osaka‘s run in Rome with a 6-3 6-4 victory, and will now take on third seed Coco Gauff who fought back from a set down to defeat former Top 10 player Paula Badosa.

In other results, world number one Iga Swiatek and American Madison Keys will face off for the second time in as many weeks, with the former winning 6-1 6-3 in the Madrid Open semi-final. They beat Angelique Kerber and Sorana Cirstea in their respective fourth round matches.

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