Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka made the quarterfinals of the 2019 Nature Valley International by saving a match point en route to winning a tough three-setter against Danish Caroline Wozniacki, the player that had defeated her in last year’s final at the same grasscourt tournament.
The world No.10 Sabalenka was practically not there in the first set and after relatively confidently winning the second set, the 21-year-old recovered from a 2-5 deficit in the third set to win the match in a deciding tiebreak.
After just over a quarter of an hour, Wozniacki led 5-0 in the first set and even though Sabalenka broke her serve in the seventh game, Wozniacki broke back right away to race to a one-set lead.
Early on in the second set, Wozniacki was 40-0 up on Sabalenka’s serve, but after wasting that opportunity, the eleventh seed dropped serve twice, both times by double-faulting on break point, opening the door for the eighth-seeded Sabalenka to force the third set.
The final set seemed to be in Wozniacki’s hands, as the 28-year-old built a 5-2 lead and earned a match point at 5-3, but a double fault wasted it — three of Wozniacki’s ten double faults happened on Sabalenka’s break points and one on match point. Slowly but surely the encounter progressed into a tiebreak and Sabalenka earned a triple match point by going 6-3 up, converting the third one with a diagonal passing shot, 2-6 6-4 7-6(5).
In the quarterfinals Sabalenka will face third seed Kiki Bertens, who defeated Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-3 6-3 earlier on Wednesday. Bertens has never lost to Sabalenka in their three career meetings so far, although their fourth encounter will be their first on grass.