Sabalenka completes Grand Slam semi-finals box-set

The world No.2 has now completed the set of reaching semi-finals or better at all four majors.

Aryna Sabalenka, quarts de finale, Roland-Garros 2023©Julien Crosnier / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Aryna Sabalenka has halted the captivating comeback of Elina Svitolina with a full-throttle 6-4, 6-4 victory on Court Philippe-Chatrier. 

The Australian Open champion extended her career-best showing at Roland-Garros, earning a semi-final spot to take on Czech Karolina Muchova.

Sabalenka has also kept up her bid for the world No.1 ranking, which she can clinch by outperforming Iga Swiatek this week in Paris.

Story of the match

Svitolina crunched a line-skimming cross-court backhand, then Sabalenka slid out wide of the left tramline to launch her own backhand winner. The opening two points hinted at a high-quality contest and that's exactly what the spectators witnessed.

Former world No.3 Svitolina, featuring in her fourth Roland-Garros quarter-final, was hustling every point, absorbing plenty of power play from Sabalenka.

The No.2 seed wasn't all about force though, transitioning forward to connect with a balletic backhand volley put-away and a stretched forehand volley helped her evade trouble for 2-2. 

Having taken a year off from matches to give birth to her first child in October, Svitolina only returned to competition in April. However, the 28-year-old was serving strongly and keeping apace in plenty of rock n' roll rallies.

The relentless velocity and accuracy off both wings from Sabalenka finally told at 4-4 as she gained the pivotal break and secured the opening set in 41 minutes.

Svitolina fended off an instant break in the second set with a sweetly-struck backhand pass. The Ukrainian was swiftly 2-0 ahead, with the world No.2 offering up a handful of untimely errors.

The match was still on Sabalenka's racquet though, the searing backhands and forehands kept unravelling the gallant Svitolina defence.

Sabalenka converted a third break point of the game to narrow her deficit to 1-2 then broke again in game five to inch ahead, wearing down the resurgent world No.192.

Even down 0-30 serving for the match at 5-4, the all-encompassing, all-court game of Sabalenka had too much intensity, to erase any chance of a decider.

Key stats

A sum of 30 winners helped Sabalenka notch a 50th career victory on clay (now 50-22 at tour-level on the surface).

Sabalenka has won 10 sets out of 10, dominating all five of her matches so far this fortnight.

The 25-year-old is the fifth woman this century to win the first 12 Grand Slam matches of the year after Serena Williams (2002, 2003, 2015), Victoria Azarenka (2013), Justin Henin (2007) and Jennifer Capriati (2001, 2002).

Sabalenka remains undefeated in five Grand Slam quarter-finals, advancing to a third major semi-final in a row.

The world No.2 has also completed the major box-set, with semi-finals secured at all four Grand Slams.

What the winner said 

Paying credit to Svitolina: "She's such a tough opponent, moving well and what she's doing after giving birth is impressive, big respect to her. It was such a tough match, super happy with the win."

Talking tactics: "I think for me, it's better to focus on myself, my game. If I feel like I have to go for my shots, then I'll go for it, no matter the score. Of course we prepare tactics, but during the match it depends on the score, depends on the game, if I need to change it a little bit."

Comparing form of Melbourne to now: "On the court I feel really good, with every match I feel like I'm getting better and better. I'm just focusing on myself and trying to bring my best tennis to the court.

Semi-final against Muchova: "Yeah I've seen her matches, she's playing really great tennis and winning against a lot of tough opponents, fighting for every point, moving very well, playing great clay court tennis. So it's going to be a great battle and I'm really looking forward to it."