Both Osaka and Sabalenka had impressed this year. Osaka captured her first WTA title back in Indian Wells, and though she has been a little inconsistent since then, had made light work of her opening three opponents in Flushing Meadows. Sabalenka, meanwhile, had been one of the form players of the summer, with a run to the last four in Cincinnati followed by her maiden WTA title in New Haven.
It was Osaka who got off to the strongest start, taking the opening set with some clinical tennis, though the 26th seed rebounded strongly to take the second set and go up an early break in the third. However, Osaka was able to get back on level terms and successfully applied the pressure at the business end of the third to seal victory.
In an encouraging battle from both women, it was the 20th seed who prevailed 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in two hour and one minutes to reach her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal, where she will face either Lesia Tsurenko or Marketa Vondrousova.
Osaka battles past Sabalenka in entertaining match
Both women looked fairly sharp early on in this fourth round clash, but it was Sabalenka who created the first chance to break, with the Belarusian holding a break point at 2-1. However, Osaka saved it to hold for 2-2, and then broke herself before consolidating for a 4-2 lead. The Japanese began to take control of the proceedings, and she broke for the second time when leading 5-3 to convincingly take the opening set.
It had not been a poor set from Sabalenka, who was simply outplayed by the 20th seed, though the Belarusian responded strongly in the second set. She broke early on to take a 3-1 lead, and with a few more errors coming from Osaka, she broke for a second time and consolidated for a commanding 5-1 lead. The 26th seed was unable to convert two set points on Osaka’s serve, though converted on her own serve to send the match to a decider.
It was Sabalenka who drew first blood in the third, breaking for a 2-1 lead, though Osaka immediately broke back to stop the Belarusian building any momentum. The Japanese proceeded to force three break points when the 26th seed next served, though Sabalenka fought from 0-40 down to level at 3-3. It was, however, Sabalenka who was struggling on serve more, and Osaka went 0-40 up as she served to stay in the match. Though they were all saved, Osaka created another chance, and a double fault from the Belarusian handed the 20th seed victory.