Aryna Sabalenka's gutting response to US Open heartbreak

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
A 50-50 image of Aryna Sabalenka shows her wearing sunglasses in her US Open press conference on the left, and reacting in frustration on the right.
Aryna Sabalenka cut a distraught figure after her devastating loss to Iga Swiatek in the US Open semi-final. PIctures: US Open/YouTube/Getty Images

After a third grand slam semi-final loss in as many attempts, not even chunky mirrored sunglasses could hide Aryna Sabalenka's immense disappointment.

The 24-year-old's defeat at the hands of Iga Swiatek in their US Open semi-final was a bitter pill to swallow, having had chances for victory in the 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 loss.

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Sabalenka had lead 4-2 in the deciding third set - but Swiatek refused to let go, with the two-time French Open champion hauling herself off the canvas by winning 16 of the match's final 20 points.

It was a hellish grand slam exit for Sabalenka, who has also let opprtunities for a grand slam final appearance slip through her fingers last year's US Open, as well as Wimbledon in 2021.

Sabalenka had earlier produced one of the feats of the tournament, when she came back from a set and 5-1 down against Kaia Kanepi to win through to the third round.

The emotion of the loss showed in Sabalenka's voice, which cracked on occasion as she dutifully answered questions from the press.

Admitting she was feeling 'not very good' to start the press conference, Sabalenka credited Swiatek for her impressive third set comeback but rued her own missed opportunities.

Though she said her team had correctly pointed out she had much to be proud of for her performance, falling once again at the same hurdle was a telling blow.

“Actually right now, I really don’t feel that way, but my team keeps telling me I have to be proud of myself for these last few months,” she said.

“I don’t feel that way, though. I feel in these three semi-finals I had opportunities and I didn’t use them, I guess.

"I am trying to think everything happens for a reason and I guess it make me really stronger. In the next semi-final, I will be much stronger as a player.”

After Sabalenka won the first set in impressive fashion, it was Swiatek who reminded the crowd why she had locked down the World No.1 spot after Ash Barty's retirement.

A lightning-fast 6-1 second set from the Polish star squared things up before Sabalenka regained the upper hand, only for her serve to fail her and Swiatek come storming back into the match to win.

Sabalenka heartbroken as Swiatek to face Ons Jabeur in US Open final

Reigning and two-time French Open champion Swiatek is bidding to become the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to capture two slams in a single season.

She'll face Ons Jabeur in the final, after earlier crushing in-form Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-1 6-3 to become the first African or Arab woman to ever reach a US Open final.

Jabeur is the first player to make the women's Wimbledon and US Open title matches since the great Serena Williams in 2019 - and only the third in more than a decade.

Swiatek and Jabeur have split their four previous meetings two apiece.

Iga Swiatek celebrates afer defeating Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open.
Iga Swiatek needed three sets to topple Aryna Sabalenka in the US Open semi-final. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

"It's always tough and I'm pretty sure it's going to be physical," Swiatek said.

"She has such good hands, she is solid on the baseline and when she's going in so I have to be careful.

"I don't know what's going to happen. Right now, I'm just going to enjoy being in the final."

At only 21, Swiatek will be playing for her third grand slam title and 28-year-old Jabeur her first after bursting Garcia's bubble in a comprehensive fashion.

Garcia had been riding a 13-match winning streak, a run that included hoisting the trophy in Cincinnati from qualifying.

But Jabeur dismantled her in little more than one hour, after there was a minute's silence at Arthur Ashe Stadium to honour the late Queen Elizabeth II.

With AAP

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