Aryna Sabalenka shocks tennis world amid ‘insane’ US Open drama

Aryna Sabalenka has left tennis fans in a state of disbelief after completing one of the greatest grand slam comebacks of all time at the US Open.

The Belarusian came from a set and 5-1 down against Kaia Kanepi, before sealing the most unlikely of second-round wins in New York.

Sabalenka fought off two match points in the second set tiebreak, before booking her place in the next round with a 2-6 7-6 (8) 6-4 win.

The 24-year-old next faces qualifier Clara Burel who downed Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4 4-6 6-4.

Sabalenka is the only women’s semi-finalist from last year’s US Open still alive at the tournament, even if she only managed to scrape through by the skin of her teeth.

The World No.6 dropped to the floor with her head in her hands after a forehand from Kanepi sailed long on Sabalenka’s third match point.

The shock and relief on Sabalenka’s face was obvious as she sat on the baseline for several moments, trying to contemplate what had just happened.

Viewers were also left gobsmacked by the extraordinary fightback from the 24-year-old.

World No.1 Iga Swiatek rolls on in New York

Elsewhere, World No.1 Iga Swiatek dismantled Sloane Stephens’ defensive play to roll into the third round with a 6-3 6-2 victory on her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut.

The 2017 champion Stephens saved eight of 12 break points but once again could not fend off the Pole’s offensive barrage after also losing to her in straight sets last month in the Cincinnati third round.

Swiatek, who collected her second French Open title this year amid an extraordinary 37-match winning streak, hit 14 winners – twice as many as her opponent – and won more than three-quarters of her first-serve points.

Playing on the court where she watched 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams as a junior, the Indian Wells and Miami winner traded breaks with Stephens early in the first set of their second-round contest before converting on the fourth attempt in the fourth game.

Stephens’ serve deteriorated in the second set, and Swiatek pumped her fist after forcing the American into a backhand error to close out the match .

Seen here, World No.1 Iga Swiatek hits a forehand against Sloane Stephens in their second round match at the US Open.
World No.1 Iga Swiatek was too good for former champion Sloane Stephens in their second round match at the US Open. Pic: Getty

“I’m pretty happy with my focus today. I think I did better than in Cincinnati,” said Swiatek, 21, who will hope to down another American in front of the home crowd when she faces Lauren Davis in the next round.

“Just being on a stadium here downstairs, not there (in the stands), is pretty awesome.”

Meanwhile, Olympic champion Belinda Bencic fought back from a set down to see off Sorana Cirstea, of Romania, 3-6 7-5 6-2 and book her place in the third round.

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