Wuhan Open champion Aryna Sabalenka has revealed that her Friday semi-final win game over world number one Ashleigh Barty tastes ‘sweeter’ than last year’s tournament win after her tough journey on this year’s tour.
Belarusian power-hitter proved has proven that she was back in top form and well past her obstacles as she dismissed Barty 7-5, 6-4 in 103 minutes.
The 21-year-old fired 24 winners and saved four out of five break points she faced against Barty, who had a left calf injury halfway through the second set and dearly needed treatment.
It was Belarusian’s 11th straight win in Wuhan and takes her career record in China to 28-6.
“It means a lot for me. It feels even better than last year… This year it was a really tough season for me. To get back on that level, it feels much more enjoyable.” said the ninth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who will play either Petra Kvitova or American Alison Riske in the final.
Aspiring to make a record of the first player to successfully defend the Wuhan title and to be the second two-time champion alongside Kvitova, Sabalenka said she is determined to battle until the last ball.
“I’ll be there for the fight. Doesn’t matter who is going to be there in the final,” she said.
Barty wasn’t much concerned about her calf injury, but accepted she would need to be vigilant during the final stretch of the season.
”It’s important at this time of the year to listen to your body. There were certain things I wasn’t able to do,” said the 23-year-old Aussie.
Barty said she felt the injury early in the first set and that it “progressively got worse” as the match went on. I’m sure it’s nothing that is too alarming,” she added.