Aryna Sabalenka reaches French Open semis and says she does not back Lukashenko

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Aryna Sabalenka reaches French Open semis and says she does not back Lukashenko via IrishTimesSport

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Sabalenka said she had stepped away from her media duties after feeling disrespected and has had difficulty sleeping since. “I don’t regret the decisions,” the 25-year-old said. “I felt really disrespected, and I felt really bad. I mean, grand slam, it’s enough pressure to handle, and I just tried to focus on myself, on my game.”

Sabalenka is now just the fifth active female player to have reached the semi-final of every grand slam tournament and the only player, man or woman, under 30 to do so. She continues to put pressure on Iga Swiatek in the race for the No 1 ranking, who must outdo Sabalenka’s result here to maintain her top ranking.

In the end, though, Sabalenka simply had too much game. She slammed a backhand return winner to take the decisive break of the first set at 4-4. Then, when Svitolina tried to hold her off in an exhausting deuce game at 2-2 in the second set on Svitolina’s serve, Sabalenka relentlessly toiled through four break points until she secured the break.

It was a completely different interaction compared to Svitolina’s wins over the Russians Anna Blinkova and Daria Kasatkina. Despite not shaking hands, Svitolina exchanged thumbs-up gestures with both opponents and the mutual respect was clear. Two days after the French crowd booed Kasatkina off the court during her defeat to Svitolina, a large section of the crowd also booed Svitolina. “It was quite expected,” said Svitolina. “I was expecting that.

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