Sabalenka shows her closing power in Moscow Back

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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Aryna Sabalenka has won six straight games stopping Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-1 to advance to Moscow’s quarter-finals on her Kremlin Cup debut.

Photo credit: Getty

Aryna sabalenka delivered closing power on his return to the Kremlin Cup.

Playing his first game since a three-set loss in the US Open semifinals, Sabalenka had six straight games stopping Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-1 to advance to the quarter-finals of Moscow.

Following: Hurkacz-Machine History

Sabalenka improved to 44-15 during the season, raising his record to 9-13 in straight sets, which at times proved difficult to navigate for the power-based cross-country skier. Not today.

Seeded Sabalenka had 10 aces and played aggressively on key points. Four of the last six games were decided after a tie, with Sabalenka winning three of those four hotly contested games.

It was Sabalenka’s first game in six weeks – she was forced to retire from Indian Wells after a bout with the coronavirus – and she should be happy with her performance on pressure points.

The pair traded breaks in the eighth and ninth games before Sabalenka broke through the tiebreaker for a set lead.

Making her debut in the Moscow main draw, Sabalenka knew she was going to face a tough test as Tomljanovic was confident to overthrow sixth place. Garbine Muguruza in Indian Wells earlier this month.

World No.43 Tomljanovic gave up serve out of love to start the second set, but fell back to 30 to tie the set after four games.

Tomljanovic raised his level in the closing stages of the second set by winning eight of the last nine points to force a decider.

That’s when Sabalenka stepped it up with a storm of gunfire. The Wimbledon semi-finalist, who converted five of 10 break points, made six straight games to wrap up in two hours and seven minutes.

The second-placed Belarusian celebrated the victory by signing autographs for the children and sharing hugs with family and friends at the edge of the court. Sabalenka beat Tomljanovic en route to the Abu Dhabi final at the start of the season and will look to replicate the blow in Moscow.

Next up for Sabalenka is a quarter-final clash against the home favorite Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Tennis Express

The 37th-ranked Russian won 19 of 23 points in first serve by beating Anhélina Kalinina 6-4, 6-1 in 79 minutes.

Alexandrova has scored 16 of the last 18 points, taking a 79-minute win to move up to 23-19 this season. Sabalenka won two of the three games against Alexandrova with the Russian’s only victory in the Shenzhen final in 2017.

Earlier, second-seed Muguruza converted seven of 18 break point chances by mastering Tereza Martincova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to qualify for their seventh quarter-final of the season.

Double Grand Slam champion Muguruza to play either ninth seed Anett kontaveit Where Andrea Petkovic in the quarterfinals.



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