Aryna Sabalenka has secured a spot in the finals of the Abu Dhabi Open after demolishing world No.22 Maria Sakkari 3-6 2-6.
Extending her winning streak to 14 games on the bounce, the brilliant Belarusian was flawless on court today, ruthlessly using her power and aggression to despatch her opponent in a match that lasted only an hour.
World No.22 Maria Sakkari came into the contest in flying form having dropped only one set this week.
Snowballing momentum, Sakkari has taken down two slam champions to buy herself a spot in today’s semi-final, destroying Garbine Muguruza in straight sets and coming back to beat Sofia Kenin in a three-set thriller.
But her service couldn’t hold up to Sabalenka’s aggressive return game, and the Belarusian came at Sakkari like a whirlwind attacking from the off.
Smashing 22 winners past her opponent and conceding only eight unforced errors during the match, Sabalenka used her pacey forehand, to break her opponent early to go 0-3 up inside ten minutes.
Oozing with aggression, Sabalenka continued to steamroller through Maria Sakkari, bombarding the Greek with devastating line shots, while mixing in a couple of deft drop shots to break her opponent once again to go 1-5 up.
And after only 18 minutes on court, Sabalenka had the chance to serve out to win the first set.
But after a costly misjudgement, she seemed to lose her control and allowed Sakkari back into the match.
Opting to leave a shot that fell right on her baseline, Sabalenka lost her momentum, and Sakkari quickly capitalised. Shooting two belting forehand winners past Sabalenka, the world No.22 kept her cool to break her opponent and claw momentum back off Sabalenka.Embed from Getty Images
Building in confidence, the Greek served out the next game, crushing Sabalenka with a brutal forehand to pull a second game back and stall the Belarusian’s advances.
Although Sabalenka’s strength proved far too much for Sakkari and used her power to turn the momentum back in her favour in the resulting game, forcing two errors from her opponent to win the first set of the semi-final.
Sakkari continued to gather momentum into the second set, improving her first serve percentage while exchanging games with Sabalenka.
But at two games apiece, it was Sabalenka who pulled away first.
And Sakkari showed resilience to come back from 0/40 down to deny the world No.10 four breakpoint chances, but ultimately conceded to a firing line shot from Sabalenka who took the first break of the second set and control of the match.
That gave Sabalenka comfort to cruise to the finish line, capitalising on two double faults to break her opponent once again to go 2-5 up.
Serving out the final match, Sabalenka’s unrelenting power continued to show till the very end finishing off her opponent with a crushing ace straight down the middle of the court.Embed from Getty Images
Dropping just 10 points on her service today, Sabalenka put on one of the most dominant performances of the tournament, showing her composure to fend off attacks from Maria Sakkari, while clinically capitalising on crucial break point opportunities to take the advantage away from her opponent.
She’ll face Victoria Kudermetova in the finals who emphatically defeated Marta Kostyuk 7-6(8) 6-4 earlier today.
Kudermetova notoriously thrives against strong hitters, meaning Sabalenka will have to utilise her full skillset to claim her first piece of silverware in 2021.
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