Rome: Aryna Sabalenka saves MP, wins epic midnight thriller vs Elina Svitolina

Sabalenka and Svitolina left it all out there but it was the Belarusian who escaped with a win.

by Dzevad Mesic
Rome: Aryna Sabalenka saves MP, wins epic midnight thriller vs Elina Svitolina
© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka has been through to the Rome quarterfinal after saving a match point in an absolute marathon at Foro Italico versus 2023 Wimbledon semifinalist Elina Svitolina

In a match that lasted two hours and 24 minutes and finished after midnight in Rome, Sabalenka managed to came back from a set down and edge out No. 16 seed Svitolina 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7).

The third set was an absolutele rollercoaster and a marathon as Svitolina started with an early break before Sabalenka stormed back to take the lead. But after taking the lead, Sabalenka failed to serve out for the match - then also faced a match point in the third-set tie-break - before finally converting her second match point to reach the Rome quarterfinal.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

In the Rome quarterfinal, Sabalenka will play against No. 9 seed Jelena Ostapenko.

How Sabalenka came back to beat Svitolina?

Early in the first set, Svitolina missed out on three break points in the opening game of the match but managed to earn the first break two games later. In the sixth game, Sabalenka managed to get the break back and tie the first set to six games apiece but Svitolina remained unfazed as the Ukrainian broke the Belarusian again in the following game and then served out the eighth and 10th games to seal the opener.

Elina Svitolina
Elina Svitolina© Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

Down by a set, Sabalenka responded emphatically as she broke Svitolina three times en route to easily winning the second set and forcing a decider. 

After easily losing the second set, Svitolina bounced back at the start of the third set with an early break and a 2-0 lead. But it didn't take long before Sabalenka responded as the second-seeded Belarusian claimed back-to-back breaks and to overturn the deficit and go 4-2 up.

With Sabalenka leading 5-4 and serving for the match, Svitolina impressively managed to get the break back without a point lost in that game.

After failing to serve out for the match, Sabalenka had a break point in the 11th game but didn't convert as Svitolina went 6-5 up. Then in the 12th game, Svitolina had two match consecutive points and a chance to win her fourth consecutive game - but Sabalenka those chances to force a tie-break.

In the third-set tie-break, Sabalenka earned her first match point at 6-5 - even thought she was in the point, she didn't convert. Then, Svitolina had her first match point at 7-6 but Sabalenka saved it with a big serve. After collecting her second match point at 8-7, Sabalenka delivered a big return which Svitolina didn't manage to get back in play and that's how the Belarusian completed her big comeback win.

Aryna Sabalenka Elina Svitolina