Cancun (Mexico), Nov 4 (SocialNews.XYZ) Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the semifinals of the WTA Finals with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win against Elena Rybakina, joining Jessica Pegula as the first two semifinalists this year.
Sabalenka is now one step closer to finishing as the year-end No.1. If she wins her Saturday semifinal match, she’ll lock it down. If she loses and Iga Swiatek goes on to win the title here, the Pole will regain the top ranking she carried for 75 weeks but lost after the US Open, WTA reports.
The match began Thursday night but was plagued by several rain delays; play was suspended just past 11:30 p.m. with Sabalenka leading 6-2, 3-5. The two returned to the Estadio Paradisus court some 16 hours later on Friday.
Inside two minutes, Rybakina had levelled the match at a set apiece.
The first game of the third set was a monumental test of wills, with Sabalenka surviving nine deuces and two break points in a 17-minute hold of serve. With Rybakina serving at 1-2, Sabalenka unleashed a pair of forehand winners to take the early lead.
It was back on serve when Rybakina broke back, the deal-breaker being a Sabalenka double fault. Sabalenka then secured the third straight break of the set, at love, to take a decisive 4-2 lead.
Serving for the match at 5-3, Sabalenka fought off five break points and converted her fourth match point with a thundering ace.
A runner-up at the WTA Finals last year in Fort Worth, Sabalenka is looking to become the first player to reach consecutive finals since Serena Williams (2013, 2014).