Aryna Sabalenka narrowly escaped Caroline Dolehide 5-7 6-1 7-5 in the second round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic on Thursday and booked a quarterfinal meeting with Daria Kasatkina.
The fourth-seeded Sabalenka struggled with only 23% first-serve percentage in the first set but recovered, more than doubling that number in the second and third. Dolehide did not give up, but Sabalenka’s determination showed and she saved five of six break points in the third set. Although she was up against an American, Sabalenka had plenty of support from the audience. The world No.6 told media, “I enjoyed that the crowd supported me like through the up and downs, it was amazing atmosphere.”
Explaining what happened in the first set, Sabalenka explained, “I was thinking a lot about my service game, because in the past I was struggling with that. I was overthinking.” After losing the first set, however, she added it’s like “there’s nothing to lose. I was able to bring myself back and start serving better and start fighting.”
Sabalenka faces Daria Kasatkina next, whom she has a 3:1 record against. For this match, she expects “long rallies high balls.” Kasatkina knows it will not be easy. After her win over Townsend, Kasatkina said Sabalenka is “always dangerous, an extremely aggressive player. And when she has her game, I mean it’s tough to do something– but I will try.” Hailing from Russia and Belarus, and having therefore missed most of the grass court swing, both are eager to get matches in before the US Open.