US Open: Sabalenka Fends off Keys to Reach Final

Fri Sep 08 2023
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NEW YORK: In a thrilling semifinal showdown at the US Open, Aryna Sabalenka demonstrated her incredible resilience and determination as she fought back from the brink of defeat to overcome American 17th seed Madison Keys.

This thrilling three-set clash not only left spectators on the edge of their seats but also set the stage for a highly anticipated final against home favourite Coco Gauff.

The match was a rollercoaster of emotions, filled with remarkable twists and turns. Keys had the upper hand early on, storming to a 6-0 lead in the first set. It seemed that Sabalenka was facing an insurmountable challenge, but the incoming world number one had other plans.

Sabalenka began her resurgence in the second set, where Keys had an opportunity to serve for the match. However, Sabalenka displayed her fighting spirit and overhauled the 2017 runner-up, eventually winning the set in a tie-break dominated by the Belarusian, 7-6 (7/1).

Reflecting on her miraculous turnaround, Sabalenka stated, She played incredible tennis, it was just another level. Somehow, I don’t know how I turned around this match. The second seed’s determination was evident throughout, even as she at times remonstrated angrily with her coaching team and celebrated prematurely in the decisive tie-break, later sheepishly admitting, I thought that we play tie-break up to till seven. I was just all over the place.

This victory marked Sabalenka’s second Grand Slam final appearance, setting the stage for an exciting showdown with 19-year-old American sensation Coco Gauff. While Gauff holds a 3-2 edge in their head-to-head record, this will be their first meeting at a major tournament.

Sabalenka acknowledged Gauff’s talent, saying, She’s an unbelievable player. The crowd will be supporting her a lot. I will do everything I can. I’ll be fighting for every point and I will do my best.

Sabalenka’s journey to the final was anything but easy. She faced early setbacks, handing Keys a break in the first game with a double fault and dropping serve again despite initially leading 40-0. Keys displayed her power and precision, consistently hitting winners with her forehand.

Throughout the match, Sabalenka’s emotions ran high, leading to a code violation after an outburst that included smacking a courtside barrier and hurling her racquet towards her coach. However, the Belarusian never lost her fighting spirit.

In the deciding set, Keys took a medical timeout for treatment to her upper left leg, adding another layer of drama to the encounter. The match remained intense, with both players fighting for every point.


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