In Wednesday’s quarter-finals of the US Open, the second option was on display. Plíšková – Sabalenková 1:6, 6:7.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t catch the beginning at all for various reasons, and then I had a hard time getting into it,” she nodded in defeat. Excited and sharpened, Belarus got into it without any ado and rolled it.
“Yes, I focused on a good start,” said Aryna Sabalenková. “In the first set, I kept a really high level of play and put Karolina under pressure.”
“She was playing vabank, a total risk and didn’t give me a chance,” admitted Plíšková, who was shouting. She messed up. She seemed sleepy and scared.
“Really terrible start. Karolína found herself in a deep hole,” said Pam Shriver on ESPN’s live broadcast. “She would need a double espresso to wake up and move her legs,” added fellow commentator Caroline Wozniacki.
Who pulls the trigger first?
Plisková was soon losing 0:4. When the scoreboard read 1-6 after just 28 minutes, she disappeared behind the scenes, at least for a few moments, to knock herself out.
She spent most of the first set pushed behind the baseline, from where she hit a whopping 87% of the balls in the first set.
She focused on defense, which is definitely not her forte, while the dragon Sabalenkova tore her way onto the court whenever she felt an opportunity.
The mesmerizing atmosphere spread even to the stands of Ashe Stadium, where Plíšková presented herself for the first time this year. “It took me a while to get used to the noise and everything else,” she noted.
Like her compatriot Kvitova, she put on a fabulous performance at Armstrong Stadium before failing on the main stage. In the tepid atmosphere, it didn’t seem like the 30-year-old Plíšková was trying to fulfill her dream of winning a Grand Slam title.
Too often, in important matches, she is washed away by a braver opponent. It is said that the bravest one who pulls the trigger first is in charge of the exchanges. In the past, she was similarly surprised in the Grand Slam quarterfinals by, for example, Croatian Lučičová, American Vandeweghe or Greek Sakkari.
“I guess it is. Sometimes a chance comes at least in the second set. Even today, I held on to it, even though I was still a little worse,” she stated. “She calmed down, didn’t get nervous for a moment. Either a winner came from her, or she made a mistake. She also gave strict services to others. I didn’t find the rhythm.’
She just flashed a “cleaver”
At 1:6, 1:2, the statistics of winning shots showed a threatening balance of 1:14. Airplanes taking off nearby, which were gaining height above the campus with a great rumble, seemed to indicate that Plíšková was on her way home on Thursday.
Although she honestly called until the tie break. However, she did not hold out a single chance for a promising position to break her rival’s serve. She hit the first winning shot from the baseline only after 58 minutes.
Only exceptionally did the cold concrete cauldron warm up with the applause that belonged to her. Perhaps she shone the most with a sharply undercut forehand in dire need, after which the ball narrowly flew over the tape.
Otherwise, however, the world number 6 dominated, who, like other Belarusians, was not allowed to compete at Wimbledon, so she was preparing in Miami.
She fulfilled her promise not to underestimate Plíšková in the slightest, which she allegedly did in last year’s back-to-back matches. She demonstrated a slightly modified serve, where she bets more on accuracy than on speed. And she handed Plíšková her sixth defeat in her tenth Grand Slam quarterfinal.