Berlin: Aryna Sabalenka dominantly wins, Ons Jabeur sets up Coco Gauff showdown

Sabalenka and Jabeur through to the Berlin quarterfinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
Berlin: Aryna Sabalenka dominantly wins, Ons Jabeur sets up Coco Gauff showdown
© Getty Images Sport - Patrick Smith

Aryna Sabalenka made a dominant start to her grass season in Berlin, while Ons Jabeur completed a big comeback to set up a quarterfinal showdown versus No. 1 seed Coco Gauff. 

Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, demolished world No. 14 Daria Kasatkina 6-0 6-4 in her first grass match of the year to set up a Berlin quarterfinal meeting versus world No. 24 Anna Kalinskaya, against whom she has a 3-1 head-to-head record. 

Jabeur, the 2022 Berlin champion, was a set away from losing in the Berlin round-of-16 before completing an impressive 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-4 comeback win over Noskova, who is enjoying a career-high ranking of No. 28 in the world. 

Now, fans in Berlin will have a chance to watch a quarterfinal showdown between three-time Grand Slam finalist Jabeur and 2023 US Open champion Gauff. When Jabeur, 29, and 20-year-old Gauff meet, it will be their eighth meeting as the American leads their head-to-head 5-2. However, it should be noted that their lone meeting on grass came in Berlin two years ago and that Jabeur won that match - the Tunisian beat the American 7-6 (4) 6-2 in the 2022 Berlin semifinal en route to winning the title in the German capital.

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Jessica Pegula also made a winning start to her Berlin run after ousting former world No. 19 Donna Vekic 6-4 7-5. For a place in the Berlin semifinal, Pegula will play against world No. 30 Katerina Siniakova, who defeated No. 6 seed Zheng Qinwen on Thursday. 

How Sabalenka ousted Kasatkina?

Sabalenka got off to an absolutely outstanding and dominant start against Kasatkina as the Belarusian tennis star didn't allow the Russian a single game or break point in the first set. 

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Patrick Smith

After bageling Kasatkina in the first set, Sabalenka also earned the first break of the second set in the fifth game. After Sabalenka went up by a set and a break, it looked like the match was over but then Kasatkina managed to get the break back in the eighth game and level the set to four games apiece.

However, Sabalenka remained very calm and collected her fifth break of the match in the ninth game before realizing her first match point on her serve in the following game.

How Jabeur came back to beat Noskova?

The lone breaks of the first set came in early games as Noskova broke Jabeur in the second game but the Tunisian instantly got the break back in the third game. Before the set went into a tie-break, Noskova saved a break point in the ninth game.

When the first-set tie-break started, Noskova opened an early 3-0 lead - then opened three consecutive set points at 6-3 - before converting her third set point to win a very tight opener.

Down by a set, Jabeur saved a break point in the third game of the second set before breaking Noskova in the fourth game to go 3-1 up. In the seventh game, Noskova managed to get the break back but Jabeur didn't panic and broke the Czech again in the eighth game to open a 5-3 lead before routinely serving out for the second set in the following game.

Ons Jabeur
Ons Jabeur © Getty Images Sport - Inaki Esnaola

After forcing a decider, Jabeur also started the third set by breaking Noskova in the first game of the set. That one break was enough for the three-time Grand Slam finalist to complete a comeback win as the Tunisian routinely held on to her serve for the remainder of the set and didn't face a single break point.

How Pegula beat Vekic?

After the opening nine games of the match, only one break point was seen as Pegula didn't convert a chance to break Vekic in the fourth game but still led 5-4. Pegula may have missed out on a chance to break Vekic early in the first set but her first break still came at the best possible time - she broke the Croatian in the 10th game, the game in which the 27-year-old was serving to stay in the first set.

Up by a set, Pegula had a chance to also go up by an early second-set break but didn't realize a break point in the third game. After saving an early second-set break point, Vekic got her first break of the match in the fifth game to go 3-2 up. 

Unfortunately for Vekic, her second-set lead was short-lived after Pegula got the break back in the eighth game to tie the set to four games apiece. But shortly after blowing a break, the Croatian had another chance to go up by a break but didn't convert a break point in the ninth game as the fourth-seeded American took a 5-4 lead. 

Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula © Getty Images Sport - Rich Storry

While Vekic managed to serve out the 10th game to stay in the match, she didn't manage to do so in the 12th game after Pegula converted her third match point on the Croatian's serve to complete a two-set win.

Aryna Sabalenka Ons Jabeur Coco Gauff