Svitolina 4-3 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server)
Sabalenka’s forehand down the line is long, 30-15. A missed chance for her there. Defensive backhand from Svitolina long, 30-30.
More important point to come. Sabalenka throws a backhand into the net, 40-30. A poor shot that one.
Sabalenka forehand return dinner, heck. It was huge. But Svitolina is unfazed and holds on when she finds her own big shot on the first serve, which is not returned.
Svitolina * 3-3 Sabalenka (* indicates next server)
Winner of Sabalenka’s aerial smash, 30-0. With the utmost power, Sabalenka explodes through the points and doesn’t make enough mistakes to give Svitolina hope.
Nice to see before the game:
Svitolina 3-2 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server)
Svitolina has to do a lot of side-to-side runs to live with Sabalenka’s groundstrokes. It’s probably unsustainable to do this for two hours.
But the aces will certainly help and she hits her first of the match to make it 40-15.
Another big wide serve and Sabalenka fails to get her back into play.
Svitolina * 2-2 Sabalenka (* indicates next server)
Better from Sabalenka as she attacks the net on her terms after a big forehand approach shot and finishes with a winning backhand volley, 40-15.
Sabalenka’s forehand into the net, 40-30. Superb return from Svitolina at the feet of Sabalenka, who scores another forehand, heck.
Big volley on the Sabalenka stretch and Svitolina can only give a wide backhand response.
Sabalenka holds. An entertaining start to the game.
Svitolina 2-1 Sabalenka* (*indicates next server)
A sixth unforced error from Sabalenka allows Svitolina to make it 40-0. A backhand return into the net and Svitolina holds on again.
Confident start from the Ukrainian.
Svitolina * 1-1 Sabalenka (* indicates next server)
Sabalenka hits a very flat ball on serve and in rallies. Svitolina takes Sabalenka to the net and once again the Belarusian looks uncomfortable when forced to volley.
But Sabalenka steps into the baseline and drills a backhand down the line for a winner to hold serve.
First set: Elena Svitolina 1-0 Aryna Sabalenka* (*indicates next server)
One of the keys to this match will be how Svitolina deals with the power and aggression of Sabalenka.
We get our first glimpse of Sabalenka’s power when she spins down the line for a winner, 15-15.
Sabalenka is already on the baseline while Svitolina is a yard or two behind. Svitolina drives Sabalenka into the net with a bunt then hits a backhand to the Belarusian, who flies into the tram lines.
Svitolina starts the match.
Here we are!
The two players enter the pitch and receive a warm welcome from the sparse crowd.
Low number of fans on Chatrier at the moment.
Sabalenka against Svitolina
She plays tennis really well here in Paris, she moves well. For example, another player is going to run a lot and return a lot of balls, and I just have to be patient and wait for that perfect shot to finish the point.
Don’t rush me. Go ahead, fight and show my best tennis.
The first semi-finalist
In the first match of the day, Karolina Muchova defeated 2021 finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time since the Australian Open 2021.
A bit of drama before the match even started…
Svitolina vs Sabalenka
Hello and welcome to Elina Svitolina’s French Open coverage against Aryna Sabalenka.
The tension will be high on the Court Philippe Chatrier when these two women will face each other because of the political aspect of the match.
Svitolina, who is competing in her first Grand Slam since becoming a mother, is from Ukraine while Sabalenka is from Belarus.
Belarus aided Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and Svitolina chose not to shake hands with those countries’ opponents.
In the last round, Russian Daria Kasatkina was booed after her loss to Svitolina. After being repeatedly asked about her personal stance on the war earlier in the tournament, Sabalenka skipped her last two press conferences.
A semi-final berth is on the line for both players and Svitolina believes she has what it takes to win in Paris.
“Of course I would like to win here,” Svitolina said. “It will be the dream, but it has always been in my career like step by step.
“I think that’s the only right way to do it, not to look too much into the future, because otherwise you lose your focus on the little things that lead to you winning games.”
With no more French players in the tournament, Svitolina has won the support of the crowd thanks to her performances and her relationship with Gael Monfils and the 28-year-old says she appreciates the support she has received.
“From the first round, you know, people were cheering me on and getting more and more, and really, really special, things that I didn’t expect that,” she said.
“I already knew from Strasbourg that a lot of people supported me. We have been married for a few years now. I have been with Gaël for over five years now. I didn’t expect it to go like this year.
“Yeah, but in the end, just grateful that the crowd was there for me, even though it was games where I was the only one and I was coming back to win, they cheer me on and give me that push and hope that I can come back and win.
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