WATCH: Aryna Sabalenka and Sorana Cirstea battle out a long 20-shot rally forcing fans to stand in admiration
Sorana Cirstea advances into the semifinals of the Miami Open and set to face the winner of Ekaterina Alexandrova and Petra Kvitova
On Wednesday at the Miami Open, Sorana Cirstea secured her first WTA 1000 semifinal appearance in ten years by defeating the Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka 6-4, 6-4. Cirstea, aged 32, accomplished this feat by defeating her highest-ranked opponent to date, the second-ranked Sabalenka. This month, Cirstea also overcame No. 4 Caroline Garcia at Indian Wells and defeated Garcia for a second time in the second round at Miami.
During the second set of the match, Cirstea and Sabalenka battled hard in a 20-shot rally that was eventually won by the second seed. It took fans by surprise as the rest of the match was pretty one-sided and disappointed the fans who expected a closer fight.
Throughout the match, Cirstea matched Aryna Sabalenka‘s powerful play. She only made two double faults, while Sabalenka made six, and she also hit seven aces, which tied her opponent’s total. Notably, three of Cirstea’s aces came at the break point, which was a challenging moment for the second-seeded player.
Additionally, Cirstea recorded 16 wins and just nine unforced errors, whereas Sabalenka had 21 in each category. The 74th-ranked Romanian, who has won two career singles titles, will now face either Petra Kvitova or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semifinals. Considering the form in which Aryna is in currently, this is definitely a major upset.
Aryna Sabalenka confident about the clay season despite the setback
Despite being the favorite to win, Sabalenka was unable to secure a victory as her Romanian opponent had different plans. Cirstea played exceptionally well, resulting in her second top-5 win in Miami and her first WTA 1000 semifinal appearance since 2013. After the match, Sabalenka was asked about maintaining her performance during the upcoming clay-court season.
In response, the 24-year-old stated that it would be crucial to focus solely on herself and not to worry about social media, other people, or the expectations placed on her. She said, “Yeah, I think the key would be just to focus on myself, don’t think about social media, don’t think about the people, expectations. Just focus on myself. Just do my thing, and I believe that if I’m going to play the same level or even better, wins will come. I just have to keep working hard, yeah, keep moving forward.”
Following her loss to Sorana Cirstea, Sabalenka admitted that she struggled with the heat and was unable to adjust to the conditions in Miami. Despite the defeat, Sabalenka has only lost three matches out of 23 this season. Her next scheduled tournament is the Charleston Open, which is the first clay-court tournament of the year.