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New York (AFP) – Banned from playing at Wimbledon amid political reprisals linked to the war in Ukraine, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka approached the US Open with enthusiasm and energy, reaching the semi-finals on Wednesday, where the world was waiting for No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
The Polish must play his shift against American Jessica Pegula (8th) at the start of the night session (19:00 GMT-4).
Day 10 of the New York Major should also determine the semi-finals below the men’s table: Russia’s Andrey Rublev (11th) faces off against American Frances Tiafoe (26th), winner of Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, and shocked Jannik Sinner (13th) and The “Next Generation” between Carlos Alcaraz (4th) will take place at the end of the evening.
6th in the world, Sabalenka dominated Czech Karolina Pliskova (22nd) 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) and, as last year, found Flushing Meadows’ last four.
But this year is driven by the disappointment of not being able to play at Wimbledon, where she was stopped by the same Pliskova in the semi-finals last year.
“Maybe I didn’t respect him enough in our last two games, I thought I was at the top. But today I was expecting a long and tough match. He played really well, but I managed to keep my game at a high level,” commented the Belarusian.
He hadn’t won five consecutive victories since his semifinal in New York last year. So Sabalenka took advantage of the Major’s two weeks of free time on the grass to prepare for his tour of North America on the hard court in Miami.
“It’s like I’ve had another pre-season: I’ve worked really hard, especially on the service. But it wasn’t particularly fun when I was training at Wimbledon in the gym on TV,” he said on Wednesday.
But that gave him extra motivation: “They stopped me from playing at Wimbledon, so I worked really, really hard for the US Open,” he insisted.
Only the London Major refused, unlike all other tournaments that decided to accept Russian and Belarusian players, but did not mention their nationality.
“It’s tough and there’s a lot of pressure. I’m just an athlete and have nothing to do with politics. I try to do my best and do my best. So the audience can have fun watching my games,” he said.
Sabalenka had to save two match points against Estonian Kaia Kanepi in the second round, but was pushed back by American Danielle Collins in the third set of the eighth. For this reason, she continues on her way with more authority and determination and says she is “ready for a new challenge”.
At the bottom of the women’s table, Thursday’s other semi-final will face France’s Caroline Garcia (17th), who is the most impressive player since the tournament started but has never played a semi-final at a Grand Slam. Tunisian Ounce Jabeur (5th), the last Wimbledon finalist.
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