OSTRAVA, Czech Republic -- No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus continued her series of enthralling comebacks at the J&T Banka Ostrava Open on Friday, storming back from a deep deficit to dominate the final stages of her tussle with Spanish qualifier Sara Sorribes Tormo, 0-6, 6-4, 6-0.
In an incredible resurgence within a single match, Sabalenka lost the first ten games of the affair and twice was a point away from falling behind 6-0, 5-0, before the World No.12 ramped up her game to reel off the next 12 games and overcome 73rd-ranked Sorribes Tormo after just over two hours of play.
"I would say it was 0-10 actually!" Sabalenka laughed, during her post-match press conference. "I just wanted to win at least one game, I didn’t want to lose 6-0, 6-0, it would be really crazy and too much."
The Belarusian is no stranger to pulling off stunning comebacks this week in Ostrava. In her first match of the tournament, Sabalenka executed a similar showing, dropping the first set handily and having to charge back from 5-2 down in the deciding set before gritting past American qualifier Coco Gauff in a final-set tiebreak.
It was a match of two halves, as 41 of Sabalenka's 47 winners came in the final two sets. Sorribes Tormo had only a single unforced error in the first set and still finished the match with only 14 miscues, but her ten winners overall did not allow her to keep pace as the firepower by Sabalenka began to take charge once the Belarusian got on the scoreboard at 4-1 in the second set.
"I was, like, out of the game, and I didn’t know why," Sabalenka said, regarding the difference between the two streaks. "I was just going for shots, really crazy, trying to make winners, and then I just cooled down a little bit, made one step back, and just tried to put more balls back and tried to go through her backhand."
"It helped me to come back," Sabalenka continued. "After I won three games in a row, I kind of knew that this was a good sign, and if I just kept going the same way, I will find my game, and that’s what happened."
With two comeback wins behind her in the event, Sabalenka now finds herself facing a battle with American Jennifer Brady in the semifinals. Brady booked her spot in the final four earlier on Friday with her own come-from-behind win over Russian qualifier Veronika Kudermetova.
"Maybe I need to get tired and then go on the court!" Sabalenka joked. "I will keep trying to be focused from the first point, because I have to tomorrow [against Brady]. I have to be focused on each point from the beginning, otherwise I’m out, and I don’t want to be out."
Sorribes Tormo took command of the opening frame from the very beginning, breaking Sabalenka with relative ease to start the set. The Spaniard kept finding divine passing winners, mainly from the forehand side, as she extended her lead over the forward-moving Sabalenka with a second break for 3-0.
Another break went the way of Sorribes Tormo as she forced an error with an overhead to move ahead 5-0. Serving for a first-set bagel, another forehand pass fell just inside the baseline to give Sorribes Tormo her first set point, which she converted after a serve deep in the box was returned long by Sabalenka.
Sorribes Tormo held complete control in the opening stages of the second set as well, breaking Sabalenka twice en route to an overpowering 4-0 lead. The Spaniard continued to use her speed and guile to draw errors from Sabalenka as she garnered two break points in the next game, and converting either of those would have given her a 6-0, 5-0 lead.
Suddenly, though, Sabalenka found a trio of winners in a row to close out that game, holding for 4-1 to get on the scoreboard and raising her arms in triumph.
"I was so happy that I could finally win one game," Sabalenka exclaimed to the press. "I was so happy in that moment."
Putting the game on the board unlocked the power game of Sabalenka, who slammed a winner crosscourt to earn her first break of the day for 4-2, then blazed to a love hold for 4-3.
Sorribes Tormo had four game points for a 5-3 lead but did not take any of them, as the blistering groundstrokes of Sabalenka, which were missing by small margins earlier in the evening, were now rocketing through the court with considerably stronger consistency. On her first break point of that game, Sabalenka forced an error with a fierce forehand, and she was level at 4-4.
After a routine hold for 5-4, Sabalenka completed her second-set surge in the next game. The last two points of the game were lengthy rallies as Sorribes Tormo determinedly chased down rockets from the racquet of Sabalenka, but the offense from the Belarusian eventually wore down the Spaniard, and the No.3 seed won a sixth game in a row to steal the set from a dire position.
There was no looking back for Sabalenka from that point forward, as the Belarusian swiftly put her stamp on the decider by punching a backhand volley winner to break for 2-0. Sabalenka had no problems holding her serve in the final set, never facing a break point during that timeframe as she raced to a 5-0 advantage.
Sorribes Tormo courageously tried to get on the board with her serve, but the depth of shot and incomparable speed which brought her to a huge lead could not stop the second-half strength of Sabalenka, and the Belarusian at last closed out her astounding 12-game run with a backhand return winner.