New York, Sep 7 (EFE).- Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, who will become tennis’ new world No. 1 female player next week, achieved a miraculous comeback Thursday against American Madison Keys and will play the United States Open final against teenager Coco Gauff.
Sabalenka won the semifinal 0-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(5) in two hours and 32 minutes after an epic game in which Keys came inches from victory before the world No. 2 turned the tables to book a place in Saturday’s final.
Playing exceptional tennis bordering on perfection, Keys stunned her rival in the first set as a desperate Sabalenka showed her frustration and her anger with screams toward her coaching box.
Keys, a 2017 US Open finalist, continued to excel in the second set and served to close out the match at 5-4 in her favor.
However, the American buckled and conceded a break to love to concede parity at 5-5 before losing the tie breaker that won Sabalenka the set and catapulted her momentum.
The world No. 17, who wore a bandage on her left thigh in the last set, failed to recover her initial level and Sabalenka grinded to the finish line, taking the match to a super tie breaker to 10 points.
A lapsus from the Belarusian left her thinking she had won the match, as she dropped her racket and momentarily started to celebrate after reaching seven points only to quickly realize she had three to go.
“I thought that we played the tie break up to seven – I don’t know, I was just all over the place, I don’t know, it was crazy,” she said laughing during her on-court interview. “Thanks to my team, who reminded me that it was 10.”
Sabalenka also assured that Keys played “incredible tennis” at the beginning of the match.
“It was just another level. Somehow, I don’t know how actually, I turned around this match (…). Being in the final means a lot to me,” said the Australian Open champion.
Sabalenka spoke of her rival for her title, Coco Gauff, who in Thursday’s earlier match defeated Czechia’s Karolina Muchova 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and three minutes in her semifinal match.
“She is an incredible player, she is playing incredible tennis here. The people are going to support her a lot (…), but I will go there and do everything I can. I will be fighting on every point,” she said.
At 19, Gauff is the great sensation of women’s tennis in the US and the youngest American to reach the final of the New York Grand Slam since Serena Williams in 1999. EFE