Miami: Aryna Sabalenka suffers shock 3R exit after personal tragedy, destroys racket

Sabalenka's Miami run ended with a surprise three-set defeat to Anhelina Kalinina.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Miami: Aryna Sabalenka suffers shock 3R exit after personal tragedy, destroys racket
© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello

Aryna Sabalenka suffered a shock defeat to Anhelina Kalinina in the Miami Open third round after personal tragedy and the death of her ex-boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov, while Iga Swiatek, Naomi Osaka and Elena Rybakina enjoyed victorious days at the office. 

On Saturday - four days after her ex-boyfriend Koltsov suddenly died at 42 by apparent suicide - Sabalenka came out again wearing an all-black outfit. But unlike a day earlier when Sabalenka beat Badosa, today wasn't her day as the world No. 2 wasn't anywhere near her best level and 32nd-seeded Kalinina took full advantage of it, upsetting the Belarusian 6-4 1-6 6-1. Moments after the match was over, Sabalenka smashed her racket several times.

On the other side, Osaka defeated Elina Svitolina in a Miami second-round blockbuster 6-2 7-6 (5) while top-seeded Swiatek demolished Camila Giorgi 6-1 6-1 in their Miami third-round match. Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Rybakina survived a major scare as she managed to edge out world No. 72 Taylor Townsend 6-3 6-7 (3) 6-4 and avoid a shock loss in the Miami third round. 

When it comes to the Sabalenka and Kalinina match, the No. 2 seed got off to a promising start and opened an early 2-0 lead but found herself quickly down by a break after Kalinina responded with back-to-back breaks in the third and fifth games. In the sixth game, Sabalenka managed to get the break back and tie the first set to three games apiece but Kalinina still won the first set after breaking the Belarusian in the ninth game and serving out for the opener in the following game.

Down by a set, Sabalenka was also facing 0-30 on her serve in the third game of the second set with the score being tied to one game apiece. From that moment on, Sabalenka dominated the rest of the second set as she won that game and also the next four to send the match into a third set. 

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello
 

After losing the last five games of the second set, Kalinina bounced back by clinching back-to-back breaks at the start of third set and opening a 4-0 lead. In the fifth game, Sabalenka managed to get one break back but again found herself down by two breaks after Kalinina earned her third break of the set in the sixth game for a 5-1 lead. Serving for the match in the seventh game, Kalinina realized her first match point to complete her three-set win over the two-time Grand Slam champion and to set up a match against Yulia Putintseva.

Anhelina Kalinina
Anhelina Kalinina© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello
 

How Osaka won the showdown against Svitolina?

In one of the most attractive Miami second-round matchups, four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka came out absolutely firing and won the first set after back-to-back breaks in the sixth and eighth games. 

After easily losing the first set, Svitolina missed out on her first break point of the match in the third game of the second set before getting broken by Osaka in the sixth game and falling down by a set and a break. 

With Osaka up by a set and having a 5-2 lead in the second set, 2023 Wimbledon semifinalist Svitolina refused to quit as she managed to get the break back and ultimately force a tie-break. However, failing to close out the match when serving for it in the ninth game didn't impact Osaka, who opened a 6-4 lead in the second-set tie-break before realizing her second match point to book a third-round ticket.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello
 

In her next Miami match, Osaka will again be featuring in a very attractive matchup as she is set to face 2022 WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia for the third time this year. Previously, Osaka lost to Garcia at the Australian Open but beat the Frenchwoman in Doha. 

2022 Miami champion Swiatek returns with a win over Giorgi 

In her first match in Miami since winning the tournament in 2022, Swiatek got off to a pretty strong start, claiming back-to-back breaks to open an early 4-0 lead. 

After serving out the fifth game to finally get on the board, Giorgi had a great chance to get one of the two breaks back in the sixth game but didn't convert any of her four break points - of which three were consecutive break points - and Swiatek went 5-1 up. With Giorgi serving to stay in the first set in the seventh game, the top-seeded Pole earned her third break of the set to clinch the opener in style. 

At the start of the second set, Swiatek and Giorgi were tied to one apiece through the opening two games. Then, the world No. 1 went on to clinch back-to-back breaks and win five games in a row to complete the ousting of the Italian. 

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek© Getty Images Sport - Brennan Asplen
 

In the Miami third round, Swiatek plays Linda Noskova, who is quickly becoming one of her regular opponents. Previously this year, Swiatek shockingly lost to Noskova at the Australian Open but got her revenge in Indian Wells, where she beat the 19-year-old Czech en route to winning the title.

Rybakina fends off the Townsend challenge

After saving a break point in the first game and two more in the fifth game, Rybakina got the first break of the match in the eighth game for a 5-3 lead before routinely serving out for the first set in the following game.

Down by a set, Townsend broke Rybakina for the first time in the match in the eighth game of the second set for a 5-3 lead but then failed to serve out for the set in the ninth game and then also didn't convert a set point on the Kazakh's serve in the 12th game. The second set went into a tie-break, which Townsend after winning three consecutive points from 4-3 up to force a decider.

At the start of the third set, Rybakina bounced back with an early break and a 2-0 lead but then got broken back instantly in the third game. The next break was seen in the 10th game, with Rybakina leading 5-4 and Townsend serving to stay in the match. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs
 

Rybakina plays next against No. 17 seed Madison Keys.

Aryna Sabalenka Anhelina Kalinina
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