Sabalenka Advances To Australian Open Quarterfinal
Sabalenka advances to Australian Open quarterfinal
Defending champion shuts out Anisimova 6-3, 6-2
Aryna Sabalenka finds herself in a new position; that of defending champion. Last year she won her first grand slam and appears ready to defend her crown. While Elena Rybakina, last year’s finalist, was deemed as the favorite this fortnight, she lost in the second round. The world #2 from Belarus has looked sharp in Melbourne with the loss of just six games in three matches.
Amanda Anisimova from the US has returned to the tour after an eight-month break to address burnout and concerns for her mental health. The twenty-two-year-old was considered a prodigy when she burst on the scene eight years ago.
She reached a career-high ranking of #21 in 2019 but is currently ranked #442 as a result of the hiatus. She has consistently played well in Australia having twice reached the fourth round (2019, 2022). The New Jersey native led the head-to-head 4-1 including a straight sets win down under in 2019 when she was seventeen.
On Margaret Court Arena, Sabalenka won the toss and elected to serve. She missed 3/5 first serves but with an ace out wide, held to 15 while Anisimova opened with a double fault and dumped serve following two forehand errors.
Sabalenka opened with an ace out wide and consolidated the break for 3-0 with well-struck serves. Anisimova began to find her range off the ground despite gifting three unforced errors. She faced two deuce and break point but with an ace up the tee and an inside-out forehand winner, held for 1-3.
Sabalenka firmly focused on the mission, held to 15 for the third time while the American held at love with three outstanding winners including an ace on game point. During that game it began to rain heavily so play was temporarily suspended to close the roof.
The #2 seed made 3/4 first serves and held at love for 5-2 while Anisimova serving with new balls, held to 30 with an incredible inside-out forehand. Sabalenka opened the ninth with her third ace and with a spectacular crosscourt forehand, secured the set 6-3.
Anisimova often looked rushed and with three additional errors, dumped serve to open the set. Sabalenka supremely confident and steadfast in her tactics, crushed a crosscourt forehand and held to level.
Anisimova opened the third with a stunning crosscourt backhand and with the two consecutive monster serves, held for 1-2. Sabalenka opened with another forehand winner and closed with her fourth ace.
Anisimova endeavoring to keep it close, struck her third ace and held easily to 15 with another unreturnable serve. Sabalenka donated two consecutive forehand errors but with two winners including her fifth ace, held for 4-2.
Anisimova continued to struggle with the pace and placement of her opponent’s returns. She faced double break point when Sabalenka ripped a forehand down the line and dropped serve when she overcooked a backhand.
The defending champion served for the match and as is often the case, battled to close. She missed 6/10 first serves including her first double fault and with a missed but makeable forehand, faced her first break point.
The thirteen-time title holder summoned her considerable experience at this stage of a slam and struck an ace up the tee and two remarkable forehands to convert her second match point.
The affable twenty-five-year-old has reached the quarters down under for the second consecutive time. While Anisimova visibly labored with her movement and court position, she is on the right path provided it fuels her happiness.
Sabalenka performed at an exceedingly high level. She finished with six aces, one double fault, and won 87% of first and 58% of second serve points. She saved the one break point she faced, converted 3/6, and hit eighteen winners to twelve unforced errors.
Standing in her way of the semis is the 2021 French Open champion and former world #2, Barbora Krejcikova. The twenty-eight-year-old from the Czech Republic and the 9th seed has survived three, three-setters to reach the quarters for the second time (2022).
While Sabalenka leads the head-to-head 2-0, they have not played since the 2021 US Open.