Wimbledon | Sabalenka and Jabeur advance impressively

Aryna Sabalenka was in imperious form as she stormed past Ekaterina Alexandrova into Wimbledon quarter-finals at The Championships on Monday, where she will play Eastbourne winner Madison Keys, while Ons Jabeur was equally impressive against two-time champion Petra Kvitova in setting up a repeat of last year’s Ladies Single Final against Elena Rybakina.

It was a little surprise that I won that set that easily, especially against a player like Ekaterina, who is serving really well. I lost very tough match in Paris [in the Roland Garros semi-finals against Karolina Muchova] leading 5-2. I was up with one break. So like today, I thought I'll just keep going, keep breaking her serve as much as I can so I give myself a little bit, like, a gap. I can serve even with more freedom. Aryna Sabalenka

Sabalenka, the World No 2, continued her march towards a second Grand Slam title this year with a comfortable 6-4 6-0 victory over Russia’s Alexandrova.

Both were missing last year after Wimbledon decided to ban players from Russia and its ally Belarus due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sabalenka, who is from Belarus, is looking to make up for lost time by continuing her winning run in London on her return.

“I’m really enjoying being here,” Sabalenka said. “I’m super happy to be back, and I’m really enjoying every second on court..

“I just want to stay as long as I can so I can enjoy the atmosphere.”

After 9 games had passed in the first set without either player breaking serve, Sabalenka changed gears, and, after failing to convert the first 2 break points of the match in the 8th game, wrapped up a one-set lead on her 3rd match point.

From there, she left Alexandrova in her wake, losing just 11 points in a second-set to cruise into the quarters, and match the result she posted in 2021 in her last Wimbledon appearance.

“It was a little surprise that I won that set that easily, especially against a player like Ekaterina, who is serving really well,” Sabalenka said afterward. “I lost very tough match in Paris [in the Roland Garros semi-finals against Karolina Muchova] leading 5-2. I was up with one break.

“So like today, I thought I’ll just keep going, keep breaking her serve as much as I can so I give myself a little bit, like, a gap. I can serve even with more freedom.

“I’m just trying to build my game in each match I play.”


Ekaterina Alexandrova was bagelled in the second set by Aryna Sabalenka as she was beaten in 71 minutes on No 1 Court on Monday

© Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The Australian Open champion, who could replace Iga Swiatek at the top of the world rankings by lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish next Saturday, pocketed the first set with a late break, playing some delightfully delicate shots at the net.

28-year-old Alexandrova had eased past her Belarusian opponent in their previous two meetings, but a repeat was never on the cards under the bright sunshine on Court One, as Sabalenka pounced early in the second set for a 4-0 lead.

Serving with power and precision, the 2021 semi-finalist tightened her grip on the match with a solid hold, and closed out the contest when the fast-fading 21st seed, Alexandrova, sent a shot long at the baseline.

“I think it was a great match, I’m super happy with this win. She’s a really tough opponent to play,” said Sabalenka, who fell to Alexandrova in the ‘s-Hertogenbosch final last year. “I’m happy with the level I played today.”

Sabalenka did not face a break point in the match, nor did she produce a double-fault as she fired off 7 aces.

The 25-year old, who has dropped one set so far, faces Keys, the American 25th seed in the Last 8.

“It’s always a tough battle,” said Sabalenka, who beat Keys in the Berlin Last 16 in 2021 to level their tour-level head-to-head record at 1-1. “I’m really looking forward to it.”


Ons Jabeur enjoyed her foray on Centre Court, where she demolished two-time champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Meanwhile, on centre Court, Jabeur was producing an immaculate performance of her own, crushing Kvitova, the 2011 and 2014 champion, 6-0 6-3, in 63 minutes.

It was demolition job, as the Tunisian 6th seed showed off her array of crowd-pleasing drop-shots, variety of slice and angles, and her ability to change the pace at will.

She raced through the first set in 22 minutes, and while the left-handed Czech, seeded 9th, made the briefest of recoveries in the second, it was short-lived and the 6th seed marched on to set up a re-match with Rybakina, the reigning champion.

“Great, great match. I’m very happy with the performance, playing someone that, maybe, I don’t like to play a lot,” Jabeur said. “Hopefully I can keep it going.”

Jabeur had to come from a set down against Canadian Bianca Andreescu on Saturday, but she had no such difficulty on a blustery afternoon as she took command from the start.

Kvitova struggled to deal with the lack of pace coming her way, while her own serve was erratic.

The Czech briefly returned to the locker room in an attempt to reset for the second set, but her radar remained badly off, and she was soon 1-4 down having conceded a double break.

She did, finally, string 2 games together, before Jabeur finished in fitting style by breaking to love.

Rybakina, the 3rd-seeded Moscow-born Kazakh, who beat Jabeur in 2 sets in last year’s final, advanced after Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia retired at 4-1 down in the first set with a back injury.

“I’m probably going for my revenge,” Jabeur said about facing Rybakina on Wednesday. “It was a difficult final last year. It’s going to bring a lot of memories.”

Jabeur has been a Grand Slam runner-up twice, at Wimbledon and the US Open, where she lost to Swiatek.

After falling just short of becoming the first African or Arab woman to win a major in the Open era, Jabeur is determined to set things to right.


Petra Kvitova (L) never looked like turning the tables on Ons Jabeur in the Last 16

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

33-year old Kvitova, who was playing in her 15th Wimbledon, was asked about her future plans following her loss, and she said the 2024 season was far away at this point.

“Not yet, it’s still too long,” Petra Kvitova said. “Are you asking me about 2024 in July? You never ask me that. But I’m not going to look for anything in it.

“I have no interesting answers,” she added. “When I know something interesting, I will tell you. But I don’t plan on quitting, if that’s enough for you.”

Elaborating on what drives her to keep going, she said: “Because I still enjoy it.

“I will still find a passion for tennis somewhere in me. It is very difficult for me to train and prepare, it is very bad for morale. I enjoy playing matches. Although not like this last one.”



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