Salem Radio Network News Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Sports

Tennis-Sabalenka overcomes serving issues to see off Vondrousova

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -World number two Aryna Sabalenka showed her fighting qualities again on Saturday as the Belarusian came back from a set down to defeat Marketa Vondrousova 4-6 6-3 6-1 and move into the fourth round of the Australian Open.

Sabalenka surrendered the opening set for the third match in a row, overcoming early serving issues to pummel the Czech into submission.

“I’m really happy right now and mostly I’m happy that I made only 10 double faults,” Sabalenka said in an on-court interview.

“She played unbelievable tennis today. I pushed myself really hard and I’m really happy with this win.

“I had some trouble (with my serve), I really expect in the next match a great serve. I’ll just keep working on my serve and keep hoping it gets better with every match.”

Sabalenka’s service struggles continued on Margaret Court Arena, with the 23-year-old double faulting in the opening game to gift Vondrousova an early advantage.

She later told reporters that her serve was suffering because she was putting too much pressure on herself.

“I think it’s more mental… (in) the last matches I was trying to control everything on my serve; my legs, my arm, the ball toss. And I was overthinking. (Today) I just stopped thinking,” said Sabalenka.

While the players traded additional breaks midway through the set, Vondrousova remained resolute in the face of Sabalenka’s heavy hitting to take the opener in 38 minutes.

But the two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist found her rhythm in the second set, breaking Vondrousova’s serve in the second game with a powerful crosscourt backhand before going on to level the match.

Sabalenka was even more decisive in the decider, breaking Vondrousova on three occasions to secure the win and set up a fourth round meeting against Kaia Kanepi.

“(Kanepi) is a great player. She’s serving well. Hits pretty hard. And, yeah, it’s really interesting to play against her. I’m really looking forward to this match,” added Sabalenka.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, additional reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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