Sabalenka Knocks Out Krejcikova, Reaches US Open Semifinal
Sabalenka knocks out Krejcikova 6-1, 6-4 for maiden US Open semifinal
The 23-year-old from Belarus with 10 career titles, finally broke thru at the slams this past July when she reached the semis at Wimbledon. Prior to that monumental accomplishment, her best showing at a slam was the 4th round at the 2021 Australian Open.
Sabalenka lost to world #1 Ash Barty in the quarters in Miami and the final in Stuttgart but got her in in the final of the Madrid Open. Her best performance during the summer hardcourt swing was a semifinal appearance in Canada where she lost in three to world #4, Karolina Pliskova.
Barbora Krejcikova from the Czech Republic also had a major breakthrough at a major this season; she defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to win the French Open! She has nine doubles titles including three grand slams and was ranked #1 in 2018.
She has three grand slam mixed doubles titles so her emergence this season as a top singles player left most completely dumbfounded. She is currently ranked #9 having broken into the top ten last month. At the start of the season, she reached the final in Dubai (l. Muguruza) and won in Strasbourg (d. Cristea). Her best performance during the summer hardcourt swing was a quarterfinal appearance at the Cincinnati Masters (l. Barty). This was the second tour-level meeting, the first won by Sabalenka in three tight sets last fall on indoor hard in Austria.
Sabalenka served first and missed 6/10 first serves and donated three double faults yet managed to hold for 1-0. Krejcikova missed 5/6 first serves and committed three unforced errors and dumped serve when her opponent struck an outstanding overhead smash.
Sabalenka donated another double fault and following three break points gave back the break. It was an inauspicious start for both players as they struggled to find their rhythm on serve and range off the ground. Krejcikova, clearly unwell, opened the 4th game with two consecutive double faults and dropped serve following an incredible inside-in forehand and backhand down-the-line pass from Sabalenka on the last two points.
Sabalenka gifted another double fault and faced four deuce and three break points but consolidated the break for 4-1. Krejcikova missed 10/14 first serves and faced four deuce and four break points and dropped serve with her third double fault. Sabalenka opened the 7th with a monster serve and a forehand down the line and clinched the set with a huge serve out wide.
Krejcikova served first in the second and following three unforced errors and another double fault, dropped serve. Sabalenka opened with two consecutive aces and consolidated the break with another. Krejcikova, for the first time, cruised on serve, holding to 15 for 1-2 with her first ace. Sabalenka missed 4/5 first serves but held easily to 15 for 3-1. Krejcikova gifted another double fault and faced double break point but held with a fantastic forehand down the line and her second ace on consecutive points.
Sabalenka, pummeling the ball off both wings, consistently extracted errors from her opponent and held comfortably to 30 for 4-2. Krecjikova struck another ace and an extraordinary inside-in forehand to hold to 30 for 3-4. With just a one break advantage, Sabalenka struggled to maintain the lead as she donated two consecutive backhand errors and two additional double faults but held with a brilliant backhand down the line for 5-3.
The twenty-five-year-old from the Czech Republic kept it close, holding to 30 with an ace out wide and an inside-out forehand winner on the last two points. The #2 seed from Belarus, served for the match and rarified air with new balls, and secured victory at love with a terrific ace up the tee.
It may have been straight sets, but it was a bit of a mess. After 1 ½ hours, Aryna Sabalenka reached her first semifinal at the US Open and her second consecutive grand slam semi.
Barbora Krejcikova did not do press following her quarterfinal victory over Garbine Muguruza during which she required medical assistance. The French Open champion, undoubtedly not in peak condition, donated five double faults and 29 unforced errors.
Sabalenka hit six aces to seven double faults and won 76% on first and 48% on second serve points. She was equally effective at net winning 7/8 and 28/55 of receiving points. She hit 22 winners to 23 unforced errors and converted 4/10 break points. While these numbers are respectable, she will need to significantly up the ante to secure her place in the final.
Standing in her way is the unseeded sensation, Leylah Fernandez. The 19-year-old lefty from Canada knocked out Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, and Elina Svitolina to reach her maiden grand slam semifinal. This will be their first tour-level meeting and with no higher stakes.