Sabalenka Continues Her Run In Cincy

Aryna Sabalenka

Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati (USA)

[13] Madison Keys (USA) vs. [34] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)

It was the first meeting between these two powerful hitters and Keys was supposed to have the weapons to hang with the young Belarusian; yet, that was not the case. Sabalenka realized that Keys continues to struggle to be consistent with her backhand and she was relentless in attacking it. Keys could not find a solution to the power from her opponent and lost the first set in thirty-one minutes.

What could she do differently in the second set? First and foremost, protect her serve, and then be patient, cut down on the unforced errors and capitalize on break points. Keys was broken in her first service game of the second set, she was not patient, she continued to make too many unforced errors and she was zero out of ten on break point opportunities. Tonight, Keys could not turn it around like she did against Angelique Kerber yesterday. Perhaps she expended too much energy in defeating Kerber and mentally had nothing left today; or perhaps it was just one of those days, where the younger opponent was on fire.

The stage where a young player can feel excess pressure is when they get to the point of trying to close out a big match. For Sabalenka it was evident in the eighth game that she was feeling the pressure of trying to get to the semifinal of a Premier WTA event. Yet, despite her lack of experience, she was able to fight through the nerves better than her more experienced opponent by serving big. Keys never looked comfortable and the result was her inability to play at the level she is capable of playing. She had her chances to get back in the match, four break chances in the first set and six break chances in the second set and she could not break her opponent.

Sabalenka regained her focus and calmly served out the match with very little fanfare. She won 6-3, 6-4 and will face the number one ranked player, Simona Halep, in the semifinals tomorrow.

SOURCE OF IMAGE: (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America-Aryna Sabalenka)

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