One of the many new stars in tennis in Aryna Sabalenka. Not hyped like a Madison Keys or a Borna Coric, Sabalenka has burst onto the scene this summer out of nowhere.
The Belarussian began the year ranked down at No. 78, but by reaching the fourth round at the US Open, she’s hovering around No. 17, with a great chance to go higher.
The 20-year-old hits the ball about as hard as anyone, much like her coach Dimitry Tursunov once did on the ATP Tour. The two started working just before the grass season, and it’s paying off.
“I think it’s everything because of my team, because they’re working really hard,” Sabalenka said Saturday. “They help me like nobody help me. I think these things that I know, like, my team is always on my side. It’s help me to stay calm on the court, to fight for every point. I can look at them, and I see they’re like, C’mon, c’mon, keep going, you can do it. It’s really help me.”
Sabalenka quietly made the finals on clay at Lugano losing to Elise Mertens, and on grass she finished runner-up at Eastbourne beating Karolina Pliskova, Julia Goerges and Elise Mertens, before losing to Caroline Wozniacki.
But it’s this summer when the tennis world took notice. Sabalenka upset Wozniacki in Canada then in Cincinnati she beat Johanna Konta, Pliskova, Caroline Garcia and Keys to reach the semifinals where she lost to Simona Halep.
Last week, she collected her first career title in New Haven losing just one set. Then this week, in her US Open debut she’s beaten former finalist Vera Zvonareva and last night overpowered Petra Kvitova.
Going into her first Grand Slam fourth round, she’s won her last eight matches and 12 of her last 13.
“I have improved everything,” Sabalenka said. ‘You always can improve. I will work with everything. Probably moving on the court, probably serve. I would like to make it more percentage on the first serve.”
Tomorrow, she’ll face another power player and 20-year-old in Naomi Osaka.
“I didn’t play against her,” Sabalenka said. “I know she’s quite aggressive player. She put a lot of balls in, quite hard. Well, I don’t know, we will think about it with the coach.
“I will just come on the court and just fight, fight for every point. It’s nothing to lose for me. I’m just have to go on the court and show everything what I can.”
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