Tennis: Sabalenka 'to keep pushing' after powering into French Open quarters

AFP , Monday 3 Jun 2024

Aryna Sabalenka powered into a seventh consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open on Monday with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over American 22nd seed Emma Navarro.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus plays a shot against Emma Navarro of the U.S. during their fourth round match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Monday, June 3, 2024. AP


Two-time Australian Open champion Sabalenka belted 36 winners past an overmatched Navarro to avenge her defeat by the 23-year-old at Indian Wells in March.

Second seed Sabalenka, a semi-finalist in Paris in 2023, will take on France's Varvara Gracheva or 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva of Russia for a place in the last four.

"It sounds crazy to me, to be honest, and I'm super happy that I was able to bring this consistency on the Grand Slams," said Sabalenka.

"That's really amazing. I just, yeah, it's motivating me a lot to keep pushing myself a lot and to see where is the limit."

Sabalenka has made at least the semi-finals at her past six Grand Slams and is expected to be Iga Swiatek's toughest rival in the Pole's bid for a fourth French Open title.

Her victory over Navarro means the top five women's seeds are through to the last eight at Roland Garros for only the third time in three decades. The other two occasions were in 1996 and 2013.

After a first week plagued by wet and muggy conditions, Sabalenka had no trouble adjusting as the sun reappeared at Roland Garros and did away with the need for the oft-used roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

"I felt like quite confident in each conditions, like I was playing really great tennis when it was cold. Today I played really great tennis as well," said Sabalenka.

"It was warm with different conditions. I would say right now it doesn't matter which conditions is going to be."

Sabalenka remains on a title collision course with world number one Swiatek, who is attempting to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for the third year in a row.

The Belarusian marvelled at Swiatek's 40-minute demolition of Anastasia Potopova in her last-16 tie on Sunday, but insisted she had no thoughts of trying to match that performance.

"I was watching that match actually, and I was like, oh, wow, that's just another level that's so intense, and I felt so sorry to Anastasia because it was just too good from Iga," said Sabalenka.

"I was stopping myself of thinking to try to do the same, because you can get really crazy with that. I was, like, okay, no, Aryna. Just focus on yourself.

"You don't have to do better than her. It's okay. That's just her world like these bagels. This is something about Iga. Just leave it for her. I will be nicer to my opponent."

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