Aryna Sabalenka thinks she’s ready to take on Karolina Pliskova’s quarter-final challenge after losing both of their encounters in 2021, saying she knows what to expect this time around.
Sabalenka beat Danielle Collins 3-6 6-3 6-2 on Monday, the world number six coming from a set behind to claim her seventh victory in her last eight matches.
With Pliskova getting the better of Sabalenka’s Belarusian compatriot Victoria Azarenka 7-5 6-7 (5-7) 6-2, it sets up the fifth career meeting between the two, with their head-to-head record split in two wins each. .
Sabalenka won both encounters in 2018, but after years without a match against each other, Pliskova turned the tables in 2021 with victories in Montreal and Wimbledon.
Speaking to the media after her fourth-round win, Sabalenka said she was surprised how much Pliskova had improved in the years between their matches, and how that won’t be the case this time around. this.
“To be honest, in those games, the first games I won against her, I was a rising player,” she said. “I was lower in the rankings, I respected all the top players. I kind of expected a good level from them.
“Then in the last two matches of last year, I was on top. Every time she moved me, every time she made winners, I was like, what the hell is going on? pass? How is that possible? Oh, my God, she makes winners.
“I mean I didn’t really respect her. Right now I really expect a good level from her.
“It’s going to be tough. Every time she makes winners, it’s not going to piss me off, it’s going to be like, okay, that’s normal, she pulls it off, so what?”
Meanwhile, Pliskova believes she is playing her best tennis of the season right now after advancing to the quarter-finals for the second year in a row, after losing to Maria Sakkari at Flushing Meadows in 2021.
She told the media after beating Azarenka that it might have been her best performance of the year – and maybe even longer.
“I think it was one of the best games this year, from my side,” she said. “I also think of her. I thought the level of tennis was good enough for the three sets.
“Maybe in the third set maybe she started to go down a bit. Of course it was understandable because physically it was also quite hard. We had long rallies, long points , long matches.
“But quite happy with my level. I think I’m playing tennis quite well now, maybe even better than last year here.”