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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Libema Open: Sabalenka beats Rogers to reach final, to face Alexandrova

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‘S-Hertogenbosch (The Netherlands), June 11 (Ajit Weekly News) World No 6 Aryna Sabalenka registered a 7-6(6), 6-0 victory against Shelby Rogers to reach the Libema Open final, here on Saturday.

Sabalenka will meet No 7 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who baet No 8 seed Veronika Kudermetova in another semi-final, which lasted for 1 hour and 16 minutes.

The 24-year old Sabalenka and Alexandrova have split four previous meetings with two wins apiece. Alexandrova won the most recent encounter 6-3, 6-4 in the 2021 Moscow quarterfinals, and Sunday’s final will be their first clash on grass.

American Rogers was bidding for her third career final and first since Rio de Janeiro 2016, and pushed Belarus’ Sabalenka all the way in the opening act. The No 42-ranked played a tactically astute set, deploying slice and net approaches to excellent effect. Opting for placement over power, she kept her unforced error count down to five while finding 12 winners.

Rogers came from 4-2 down to serve for the set at 6-5 — but at 30-30, consecutive rare mistakes allowed Sabalenka to force the tiebreak. The World No 6 found her best tennis just when she needed it, saving a set point by conjuring a slice winner off an awkward net cord, then hammering a forehand to convert her own first set point.

From there, Sabalenka rolled, breaking Rogers three times in the second set. The 24-year-old finished with 22 winners and 16 unforced errors in total. Rogers, though, managed to come up with the shot of the match, an absurd reflexed dropshot winner in the third game of the second set.

“Was a great match out there, she pushed me a lot and she played so well in the first set especially,” said Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, No 30-ranked Alexandrova turned in one of the cleanest performances of her career to dispatch Kudermetova. Her serve was formidable — the 27-year-old dropped just five points behind her first delivery, and she saved three of the four breakpoints she faced.

Alexandrova backed her serve up with a series of spectacularly angled forehands and was coolly efficient in the majority of important moments, converting five of the six break points she brought up on Kudermetova’s serve.

Kudermetova was coming off the first Grand Slam quarterfinal of her career at Roland Garros and bidding to reach her fourth final of 2022, but racked up 20 unforced errors to only six winners. Alexandrova finished with 21 winners and 14 unforced errors.

–Ajit Weekly News
avn/cs

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