CINCINNATI, Ohio -- A quarterfinal showdown between Top 5 players was set at the Western & Southern Open when No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No.5 seed Ons Jabeur both advanced into the last eight of the WTA 1000 event. They will face off in Friday's night session.
Jabeur was the first of the pair to make it into their quarterfinal clash. The Tunisian advanced to her first hard-court quarterfinal since January after Donna Vekic retired from their Round of 16 match due to a viral illness.
Jabeur, who is playing her first tournament since reaching the Wimbledon final last month, was leading 5-2 in the first set when the match was suspended due to rain. During the stoppage, Vekic retired from the match and also withdrew from doubles.
"I wish Donna a speedy recovery," Jabeur said afterwards. "I'm not sure what happened, but something was wrong. I wish her all the best."
Sabalenka followed with a 6-3, 6-3 win over No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina, in a match which was interrupted by three separate rain delays. Sabalenka quite literally weathered the storms, improving her head-to-head lead over Kasatkina to 4-2.
"I was just hoping [the rain] is not gonna come again, and we would be able to finish the match," Sabalenka said. "We finished the match with the win, against such a tough opponent like Dasha, so just super happy."
The first rain delay came at 5-2 in the opening set, but Sabalenka returned to action unbothered, closing out the one-set lead with a service hold at love.
The duo exchanged breaks to begin the second set, but Sabalenka took charge in the seventh game, converting her fourth break point of a grueling game with a backhand return winner to lead 4-3.
Reigning Australian Open champion Sabalenka broke Kasatkina once more for good measure to wrap up the match. Sabalenka finished the encounter with a 5-for-9 success rate on break points.
Sabalenka leads Jabeur in their head-to-head 3-2, but Jabeur won their last meeting, which was a very big occasion -- last month's Wimbledon semifinals.
"At this level you're going to meet with Aryna [or] with players like her all the time," Jabeur said. "I'm looking forward to having another great match against her. I know she didn't forgive me for Wimbledon semifinals, so it's gonna be a fun match, for sure. A lot of emotions in that match, but looking forward.
"I love to play players like [Sabalenka]. I love to have that kind of competition, you know, that makes us the players that we are today."