The incredible service game displayed by Aryna Sabalenka’s in the US Open quarter-final victory over Karolina Pliskova has been compared to that of the legendary Serena Williams by Eurosport’s Mats Wilander.
Sabalenka was in imperious form as she brushed aside Pliskova in straight sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium to seal her third career Grand Slam semi-final, hitting 18 aces along the way.
One of the many outstanding components of Williams’ game was her commanding serve, and Wilander believes that, when on form, Sabalenka is similarly formidable for opponents.
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“She’s serving great again,” Wilander said when analysing her performance on Eurosport.
“The attitude is always there. When she plays well, it’s very difficult to find an opponent that she doesn’t like playing against.
“It’s really important to win the first set, especially in the women's draw when there's two out of three sets.
“But I think just that’s the confidence you get from being the boss. When you're playing against someone that hits the ball as hard as Pliskova does and realising that, ‘I don't have to risk everything. I can defend a little bit. I can keep the ball in play.’ And I mean, she's got power everywhere.
“Sometimes, like her last backhand, she doesn’t even look like she’s hitting it that hard and the ball comes up so fast from her racquet.
“I like that she’s willing to come forwards. We know that she plays a lot of doubles, and she’s learnt how to play with a bit of variety. Of course, what’s most important and the most improved is obviously the serve. But I mean, that’s unplayable. That’s Serena Williams stuff that she does sometimes.”
Wilander believes that the Belarusian is now playing with more freedom because she is not currently in the world’s top three.
He said: “I think [she’s] more experienced. Maybe not those expectations that you have when you are ranked number two, number three in the world. Obviously she’s seed number six so she’s still amongst the best in the world, but I think she’s flying a little bit under the radar these days. But then you realise when she goes on the court and she plays well.
“Fasten your seatbelts because if you are not a great mover, you’re going to be in serious trouble against Sabalenka. For me she’s one of my all-time favourites because of her attitude, the way that she plays, and she’s completely fearless when she’s out on the court.”
Sabalenka’s relentless and intensive performance was in total contrast to the lethargic display shown by Pliskova, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the Eurosport experts. Barbara Schett was most critical.
“She didn’t show up, really. She looked very flat. At one point I thought she had asked her trainer to come out. When you play a quarter-final at a Grand Slam, you have to be more energetic.”
Pliskova made an incredibly slow start and almost looked shell-shocked as she fell to a 6-1 defeat in the opening set.

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic returns a shot against Aryna Sabalenka during their Women’s Singles Quarterfinal match on Day Ten of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 07, 2022.

Image credit: Getty Images

She was much improved in the second set, but that was simply a case of too little, too late, according to Alex Corretja.
“We know she’s very calm, and the problem she faced today is that when you go on court against someone like Aryna is that she goes full power from the very first point,” he said.
“Maybe when you start waking up a little bit it’s already the second set and you start playing better, but it was not enough for her.
“Maybe if she plays against someone else she has time. But today I think today Karolina took too long to realise Sabalenka was playing because she didn’t realise the speed of this court.”
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