In a thrilling U.S. Open semifinal match on Thursday night, Aryna Sabalenka emerged victorious after a rollercoaster battle with Madison Keys. The No. 2 seed faced a setback in the first set as she lost 6-0 to Keys, but she quickly turned things around in the second set. However, frustration got the better of Sabalenka when she sent a return volley into the net, allowing Keys to take a 2-1 lead. The 25-year-old Belarusian walked over to the sideline and towards her supporter box before unleashing her anger on her racket. With great force, Sabalenka smashed her racket down. In an attempt to throw the racket into the stands near her coaches, it fell short and didn't reach the crowd.
Following the match, Sabalenka jokingly blamed her coaches for the outburst during an interview with ESPN. "They're fired, they're not my team anymore," she said with a laugh. "It's all their fault. No, no, no. We spoke that if I need to throw those emotions, I have to do it. Otherwise, I'll just eat myself from the inside. So I was just like yelling, screaming, swearing to them. They know I still love them. It's for the better, it's for a good reason."
Despite the momentary setback, Sabalenka found her rhythm and turned the match around. She went on to win the second and third sets after lengthy tiebreaks, securing her spot in the U.S. Open final. In the final tiebreak, Sabalenka even started celebrating a few games early, but she remained composed and closed out Keys with a score of 10-5.
Now, Sabalenka is set to compete for her second singles Grand Slam title this year as she faces American Coco Gauff in the Flushing final on Saturday. The stage is set for an intense showdown between the two talented players.
On the other side of the court, Madison Keys showcased a dominant performance in the first set, leaving fans hopeful for an All-American U.S. Open final. However, despite her strong start, Keys couldn't maintain her momentum and eventually succumbed to Sabalenka's resilience.
After losing the second set in a 7-1 tiebreaker, Keys faced a fierce opponent in Sabalenka, who had already proven herself with a victory at the Australian Open and impressive performances at the French Open and Wimbledon. Sabalenka's consistent play and stronger overall season made her a formidable opponent, yet Keys fought valiantly.
Keys' powerful serve and strong forehand were on display throughout the match, but her struggles with her backhand proved costly, especially when she had an opportunity to break and avoid a tiebreaker. Sabalenka, on the other hand, showcased her prowess with aces number 11 and 12, the most she had achieved throughout the U.S. Open.
In the end, Sabalenka's determination and ability to stay composed in high-pressure situations allowed her to secure a hard-fought victory. As a result, she will take over the world No. 1 ranking on Monday, adding another accolade to her impressive season.
Looking ahead to the U.S. Open final, Sabalenka acknowledges the formidable opponent she will face in Coco Gauff. The American has been playing exceptional tennis throughout the tournament, and Sabalenka is prepared to give her all in their upcoming match.
"She's playing great tennis here at the U.S. Open," Sabalenka said of Gauff. "I'll go there and do everything I can, fight for every point. I'll do my best."
With both players eager to claim the U.S. Open championship, fans can expect an electrifying final filled with talent, determination, and memorable moments on the court.