Tennis: Sabalenka into Adelaide quarters after comeback

AFP , Wednesday 4 Jan 2023

World number five Aryna Sabalenka rallied from 1-5 down in the first set to battle into the Adelaide International quarter-finals on Wednesday.

Belarus Aryna Sabalenka hits a return against Russia s Liudmila Samsonova during their women s singles match at the Adelaide International tennis tournament in Adelaide on January 4, 2023. AFP

The Belarusian second seed saved seven set points before getting past dogged Russian Liudmila Samsonova 7-6 (10/8), 7-6 (7/3).

She will meet Marketa Vondrousova for a place in the last four after the Czech player's dominant 6-0, 6-4 dismissal of dangerous Estonian Kaia Kanepi.

"When you're 1-5 down there's nothing to lose and you just go for your shots without thinking," Sabalenka said of clawing back against a player who collected trophies in Tokyo, Cleveland and Washington last year to crack the top 20.

"That really helped me to stay in the set, keep fighting and trying. She's an incredible player with a huge serve, so was tough."

Sabalenka had a first-round bye but notched a pair of doubles wins alongside Lidziya Marozava to kickstart her Adelaide campaign.

She lost to the 20th-ranked Samsonova in three sets in Guadalajara last October before rounding out a stellar season, which included a run to the US Open semi-finals.

Vondrousova was keen to move on from a disjointed 2022 in which she missed six months due to a wrist injury, making her first quarter-final since reaching the last four in Dubai almost a year ago.

"I'm just so happy to be back playing. It was a very tough time when I didn't play, so yeah, I'm just very happy to be playing at this level," she said.

"You know I was feeling great since the match started. I knew it was going to be tough because she was getting better and better."

In the men's draw, Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov made the last eight with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 win over Britain's Jack Draper.

He will play either former world number one and second seed Daniil Medvedev or Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic next.

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