(September 7, 2022) FLUSHING MEADOWS, New York – No. 6 seed Aryna Sabalenka became the first woman since Serena Williams (2019-20) to reach consecutive semifinals at the US Open on Wednesday. The No. 6 seed beat No. 22 Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 7-6 (4) in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
This straight sets victory was easier than her against Danielle Collins in the previous round and her second-round match in which she saved two match points versus usual seed killer Kaia Kanepi. Sabalenka has now won her past three major tournament singles quarterfinals.
“It was tough match,” said Sabalenka. “Always tough matches against Karolina.
“Yeah, I think I start really well, and the first set was really high level for me and put a lot of pressure on her. Yeah, first set was really great.
“In the second set, I knew she will kind of trying to come back and she will do better. I just tried to hold my serve and try to put her under pressure on her serve.
“Yeah, happy with this win.”
Pliskova talked to media about what made the difference in the match:
“I mean, for sure the beginning of the match because I just gave her too much, and somehow I just could not somehow get in the match.
“I was not playing at all the way I was playing the last couple of matches, especially the last one with Azarenka, which I think was nowhere close to that. Of course, it’s what the player also like, you know, like gives you, and she didn’t give me much. Plus she was playing super-aggressive, serving amazing today. I think I never play her in this kind of shape.
“I guess there are days like this when you know she’s playing amazing, I’m not playing the best, not serving the best at all today. Just somehow couldn’t feel really the court. I was a bit lost out there.
“But still I thought I at least gave myself a chance to fight in the second set. I thought it could actually go, although she was still a bit better, that it could go both ways, because tiebreak is always, like, a bit risky.
“But all credit to her, and I think overall was good tournament for me overall. These tournaments in America I thought I played again like much better tennis than throughout the beginning of the year and the middle part. Hopefully I’m on the right way and I can continue to play like I was playing here.”
Because Sabalenka is Belarusian, she was not allowed to play at Wimbledon or any of the British warmup tournaments, so she had what she called a second pre-season:
“I had another preseason. I worked really hard, and I worked a lot on my serve.
“Yeah, it was tough time, especially when I was working out in the gym and there was Wimbledon playing on the TV. I was always turn it off because I couldn’t watch it. But it was tough time, and I worked so hard. Yeah, I worked a lot in that period.”
“I worked really hard. They (Wimbledon} took away one opportunity from me, and I work really hard for this one.”
“It’s tough and it’s a lot of pressure. I’m just trying to think in that way, that I’m just an athlete and I have nothing to do with politics. I’m just trying to play my best and make sure that people enjoying watching my matches.”
Should she reach the final, she’d see her ranking rise to the Top five.
She plays the winner of the Jessica Pegula – Iga Swiatek match.
On possibly playing Pegula:
“She’s a great player. I’m just trying to stay focused on the matches against her, and I’m just trying to make her work for it, make her move, and every time I play against her, I’m just trying to put a lot of pressure on her.
“I think this is the key, that I’m trying to put her under pressure.”
As for Swiatek:
“She’s a great player, always tough matches against her. She’s moving well, hitting the ball really well, serving well.
“She’s a tough opponent, but I’ll do my best there and I’ll make her work as much as I can.”
No. 1 Iga Swiatek beath 8th seed Jessica Pegula 6-3, 7-6(4) to make her first New York semifinal on Wednesday night. The match saw 13 service breaks between the two women.
“Well, for sure I’m pretty proud of it because I feel like I’m playing better and better every match. Jessie was a tough opponent today, for sure. Second set was really tight. We both were fighting till the last point.
“I’m proud of myself that I could be the one to win the last one.”
Asked about playing Sabalenka, she said:
“I guess each of these matches was totally different. We also played in Stuttgart. Every of these match I had totally different level of confidence. So it’s hard to compare.
“In Doha for sure it was the beginning. It wasn’t the beginning of the streak, but it was the first match where I realized I can actually play really solid against these top-10 players. Aryna was playing really good. It really gave me hope and motivation for the future.
“In Stuttgart I felt like I just continued what I had been doing for couple of last tournaments. I was happy that I was solid.
“Here it’s a Grand Slam. For the first time we’re going to play against each other in a Grand Slam. So I don’t know how it’s going to be.
“For sure I’m going to be working to keep my level of focus, determination the same way. We played each other couple of times, so we know each other. It’s going to be pretty similar situation.”