Aryna Sabalenka was the only player to take a set off of Naomi Osaka at the 2018 US Open, and the Belarusian was up a break in the deciding set against the eventual champion in their fourth-round thriller. Her hot summer form has not cooled this autumn, as she powered to her second WTA title in the last six weeks on Sunday by winning the Wuhan Open in China.
After a pair of three-set victories against Carla Suárez Navarro and Elina Svitolina, the unseeded Sabalenka won her final four matches in straight sets to win the WTA Premier 5 title, the biggest trophy of her young career, defeating Anett Kontaveit, 6-3, 6-3, in the final.
Here’s more on the two-time WTA titlist:
The Aryna Sabalenka File
Birthplace: Minsk, Belarus
Current Rank: 16
Career-High Rank: 16
Best US Open Finish: Round 4 (2018)
- Sabalenka ended the 2017 season at No. 78 in the WTA Rankings and broke into the Top 50 for the first time in April to set the stage for a breakout summer in the US Open Series. After defeating world No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki in a third-set tiebreak to advance to the last 16 at the Rogers Cup, she reached the semifinals in Cincinnati before winning her first WTA title at the Connecticut Open.
- She defeated Suárez Navarro in the Connecticut Open final to become the youngest active WTA trophy-winner, a distinction she still holds, and was named the US Open Series Breakout Performer for her success across the five summer events.
- Making her US Open debut as the No. 26 seed, Sabalenka defeated No. 5 Petra Kvitova, 7-5, 6-1, to set up her fourth-round encounter with Osaka. Prior to the 2018 US Open, she had registered just one Grand Slam win in four main-draw appearances, at Wimbledon in 2017. Her New York showing ended a run of three consecutive first-round Grand Slam losses in 2018.
- Sabalenka has notched seven wins over Top-10 players in 2018, with five of those victories coming on the North American hard courts this summer. At No. 16 in the WTA Rankings, she is now knocking on the door of the Top 10 herself. In the WTA’s Race to Singapore, she stands at No. 11, just three spots away from a berth in the year-end finals.
- At the age of 19, Sabalenka helped lead the 2017 Belarus Fed Cup team to its first-ever final in the competition. She defeated Sloane Stephens in the second match of the final tie, but the U.S. went on to win the trophy with a 3-2 victory. Sabalenka remains a key member of the Belarus squad and holds a 6-4 overall record in Fed Cup singles play.
They Said It!
“Before, I was just, like, hit the ball as hard as I can, it's enough. From this summer, when I started working with Dmitry [Tursunov], I started to think on the court.” – Sabalenka told WTATennis.com, reflecting on her new coach’s role in her recent success. The pair began working together during this year’s grass-court season.