Highest-ranked opponents Aryna Sabalenka has defeated at Grand Slams
(Courtesy : AP)
Sabalenka reached the semifinals in all four Grand Slam competitions in 2023
Aryna Sabalenka, the world No. 2, has reached the final of the Australian Open 2024 without losing a set. She will face Zheng Qinwen of China in the title match. The Belarusian is aiming to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in Melbourne since her compatriot Victoria Azarenka in 2013.
Sabalenka became a consistent contender for the Grand Slam trophies after claiming her maiden major singles title last year. She made it to the last four in all the four majors in 2023. She also ascended to the top of the WTA rankings after Jelena Ostapenko beat Iga Swiatek at the 2023 US Open. Unfortunately, she could not hold on to the spot until the end of the year.
Sabalenka has reached three major finals in the past year and has a remarkable record of six Grand Slam semifinal appearances in a row. She has just ousted No. 4 Gauff from the tournament. Here is the list of the highest-ranked players that Sabalenka has beaten at the Grand Slam-level events.
Coco Gauff (No. 4) at Australian Open 2024
Sabalenka, the reigning champion, avenged her US Open 2023 defeat by ousting Gauff in the first major of the year. She showed nerves of steel to beat the No. 4 seed 7-6 (2), 6-4, and set up a repeat of the Australian Open final. Gauff and Sabalenka have a close rivalry, with the 19-year-old holding a 4-2 edge in their previous encounters. They have split their two Grand Slam matches, making it 1-1.
Petra Kvitova (No. 5) at US Open 2018
On September 1, 2018, at the Louis Armstrong Stadium, Sabalenka, who was the 26th seed at the time, triumphed over the No. 5 seed Petra Kvitova with a score of 7-5, 6-1. This victory marked Sabalenka’s first time advancing to the fourth round of a Grand Slam, and it happened during her debut main draw appearance that year.
Kvitova, who has previously been ranked as high as No. 2 and is currently ranked 18, has faced Sabalenka five times in total. Kvitova leads their head-to-head record with three wins to Sabalenka’s two. Notably, all of their encounters have taken place on a hard court.
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Barbora Krejcikova (No. 9) at US Open 2021
After defeating Barbora Krejcikova at the US Open 2021 Sabalenka advanced to her second Grand Slam semifinal with a score of 6-1 6-4 at Arthur Ashe. The match’s most notable aspect was Sabalenka’s comeback game, as the Belarusian won more than half the points when her opponent served.
The two have played seven times each other with Sabalenka dominating their head-to-head records 6-1.
Belinda Bencic (No. 10) at Australian Open 2023
After losing an early break and sending her Swiss opponent flying off the court, Sabalenka rallied to defeat Belinda Bencic 7-5 6-2 and make her first-ever trip to the Australian Open quarterfinals on January 23, 2023. She ultimately defeated the former Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who is now ranked 3rd, with a score of 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to win the Australian Open title that year. She became the first neutral player to win a major title despite situations where players from Belarus and Russia were prohibited from competing under their national affiliation.
The two, Sabalenka and No. 21 Bencic, who has been ranked as high as No. 4 in 2020, have now faced thrice each other with the 2nd seed leading the race 2-1. The major in Melbourne last year was the only Grand Slam-level encounter they had so far.
Barbora Krejcikova (No. 11) at Australian Open 2024
In an incredibly fast quarterfinal recently on Tuesday, January 23, Sabalenka defeated Barbora Krejcikova 6-2, 6-3 to maintain her momentum in her defense of the Australian Open championship and make her sixth major semifinals back to back. This was their second encounter at any Grand Slam having defeated the Czech before in 2021.
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