CINCINNATI, OH, USA - Aryna Sabalenka is through to the third round at the Western & Southern Open for the first time after coming back from a set down to stun the No.9 seed Karolina Pliskova.
In her previous match, Sabalenka scored a big first-round win against Johanna Konta - backing up her performance last week in Montreal which saw her record the biggest win of her career over World No.2 Caroline Wozniacki.
The 20-year-old Belarusian’s stock continues to rise with another Top 10 win, this time saving two match points to defeat Pliskova 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in just under two hours.
“I started really bad and I didn’t put the ball in - it was so tough mentally for me,” Sabalenka admitted in her post-match interview. “But then I came back and won the second set, and in the third set I saved two match points.
“I think I played a good level of tennis, and I’m so happy that I’m playing like this this week.”
Sabalenka didn’t have much to trouble Pliskova in the opening set, and she quickly went down a double break as Pliskova led 4-0 and comfortably closed out the opening set.
But she found her big serves in the second, dropping just one point across four service games and keeping all the pressure firmly on Pliskova. She was rewarded with a decisive break at 4-2, and needed five set points to serve out the set - fighting off four break points in a marathon game as Pliskova made a late comeback push - but finally prevailed to send the match into a decider.
With both players fully dialed in, there was little to separate them during much of the tight third set. Sabalenka had to save two match points at 5-4 as Pliskvoa tried to pile on the scoreboard pressure and force a break, but the Belarusian held firm. She grabbed the lone break in the next game at 6-5, and closed out her victory after an hour and 55 minutes.
Sabalenka will measure her giant-killing game against another big name in the third round, as No.6 seed Caroline Garcia awaits in her next match.
“It’s going to be my first match against Garcia, it’ll be very interesting to play against her.”