'Hard to watch': Tennis world in shock over 'alarming' scenes
Tennis fans and commentators were left stunned on Tuesday when World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka was reduce to tears on court in a concerning meltdown.
Ash Barty's projected opponent in the Australian Open final will enter the grand slam without a win this year after another flop in Adelaide.
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The Belarusian's Open preparations are in tatters after a 5-7 6-1 7-5 first-round loss to lowly-ranked Swede Rebecca Peterson on Tuesday.
The defeat came after a 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 loss to Slovenia's World No.100 Kaja Juvan in her season opener in the South Australian capital last week.
On Tuesday, Sabalenka broke down in tears on court as her serve completely abandoned her.
The World No.2 served 21 double faults and resorted to serving underarm late in the match.
"This is my technical problem, I cannot serve better," she responded when chair umpire Julie Kjendlie asked if she was okay.
Jelena Dokic expressed her concerns in commentary for Channel Nine.
"It's tough, I feel for her," Dokic noted.
"It's about finding those answers out there, but even off the court, what do you do next?
"It clearly set Sabalenka off, saying 'there's nothing I can do, it's my technical problem, I'm trying.'
"It's a tough one, because you're genuinely concerned. Julie Kjendlie, she's an incredible chair umpire, I've known her for a long time, incredibly experienced and I think she was concerned. Obviously the timing of it for Sabalenka wasn't great.
"This is hard to watch. The fact that she's in tears out on court. I'm genuinely concerned for Sabalenka."
Tennis world concerned over Aryna Sabalenka meltdown
Journalist Tumaini Carayol tweeted: “Alarming to see Aryna Sabalenka, the world number 2, resorting to underarm serves because she simply cannot serve properly right now.
“Two losses to start the season with 18 double faults (in two sets) and now 21 double faults against Rebecca Peterson today.”
Mark Gottlieb said Sabalenka’s serving woes were “staggering”.
“One of the world’s best tennis players (Sabalenka is ranked TWO!!! in the world) has completely lost the ability to serve a week out from the first major of the year,” he said.
Journalist Jose Morgado added: “Sabalenka can’t serve. What the hell is happening?”.
This is a staggering thread. One of the world's best tennis players (Sabalenka is ranked TWO!!! in the world) has completely lost the ability to serve a week out from the first major of the year. #Tennis #Ausopen https://t.co/rAtMaeRvZo
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) January 11, 2022
Sabalenka can't serve.
What the hell is happening?
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) January 11, 2022
I genuinely really feel bad for Aryna Sabalenka…. I noticed it at the WTA Finals, but these service yips & double fault issues have magnified immensely. Feels psychological. It’s affecting the rest of her game. She can obv serve really well. You don’t just get to #2 like that.
— Vansh (@vanshv2k) January 11, 2022
Sabalenka playing in tears poor thing pic.twitter.com/CSBlaB2Y0E
— Sadi (@girllayingdown) January 11, 2022
This is wild. Sabalenka, the world #2 and two time Slam semi finalist ma year, has forgotten how to serve mid match and has resorted to underarm. #AdelaideTennis https://t.co/PllsglPY9A
— GV (@GoldenViews00) January 11, 2022
While Barty is a perfect seven from seven this year after sweeping to the singles and doubles titles at the first of successive Adelaide Internationals, Sabalenka hasn't won in more than two months.
After failing to make the semi-finals of last year's season-ending championships in Mexico following losses to Maria Sakkari and Paula Badosa in the group stages, Sabalenka arrived in Australia needing precious court time.
Instead, the 23-year-old will head to Melbourne Park seriously underdone.
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