WUHAN, China - Her set-winning streak in Wuhan might have ended, but her match-winning streak did not.
Defending champion and No. 9 seed Aryna Sabalenka powered through her 10th straight victory to return to the semifinals at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, beating Kazakh wildcard Elena Rybakina, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
After dropping the second set against the 20-year-old wildcard for her first set lost since beating Elina Svitolina in last year's second round, Sabalenka powered her way through a dominant final set to advance to her fifth semifinal of the season.
She later teamed with Elise Mertens to continue their winning streak in doubles, as the US Open champions and No. 2 seeds beat Caroline Garcia and Bethanie Mattek-Sands to reach the semifinals, 7-5, 6-3.
"I feel great. It's great to finish the day with two wins. It was great level on singles and great level on doubles. I'm just enjoying my time on the court," Sabalenka said.
"It was great to play. My game is getting better and better with every day, with every match."
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The rising Kazakh, a winner of her first WTA title in Bucharest in June and runner-up in Nanchang two weeks ago, pushed the match into a decider thanks to a commanding showing in the second set.
Hitting 10 winners and landing 82 percent of her first serves, the World No. 50 opened up a 5-0 lead and never looked back to square the match at one set apiece.
However, the defending champion righted the ship in the decider, as she was the one to soar out of the set break and win five straight games. She never faced a break point, lost just three points on serve overall, to seal victory in one hour and 41 minutes.
Though she proved unable to seal the match with a third break of the set, as Rybakina saved a pair of match points before holding to get on the board, an emphatic love hold, sealed with her sixth ace, helped her wrap up the match.
"She broke my serve, and I started to [get] nervous a little bit. I was just like overhitting the ball. She just block it. Doesn't hurt her that much. I wasn't going for bigger targets, maybe," Sabalenka said.
"The third set, I was trying to move her a little bit more, don't give her that much time, just move her from side to side a little bit quicker.
"The second set was definitely not the great playing from me. In the third set, I was like, 'Okay, I just need to go for it. It's going to be tough, but I have to finish this match with the win.' It was really important for me."
Sabalenka will face Ashleigh Barty in the semifinals for the second straight year, after the World No. 1 sealed a titanic victory over Petra Martic in the quarterfinals.
"She's a great player. She's No. 1 right now. It's going to be interesting to play against her. For sure it's going to be a tough match, but I'm looking forward for it," Sabalenka said.
"I'll just try to focus on my game, focus on each point, try to stay calm and be ready for everything.
"I feel confidence, maybe, to play here. I don't know. People support me really crazy here. I feel it."