"I'm so excited to be in the final especially here...I'll be there for a fight," Aryna Sabalenka showed a huge grin as she finished off her no. 1 opponent Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 6-4 in the Wuhan semifinal.
But things weren't all so loverly about three weeks to a month ago as Sabalenka became disgusted with the way her performance went south, losing in the second round at the U.S. Open slam to Russia's Yulia Putintseva in straight sets.
Despite her winning the doubles title with constant partner Elise Mertens, the singles lost stung. She decided hastily to split from coach and former player Dmitry Tursunov. Sabalenka would blst it out on Instagram saying "Thank you for everything and all the best in your future!" She hadn't an idea who the next coach would be.
The Belarusian just probably got disgusted and as many players may do getting rid of the coach. Dmitry has been with her at last year's grass season and with him she'd won New Haven and Wuhan in 2018. It wasn't long that she'd recoil and realize what she had done.
She knew being on tour without Tursunov might be a bigger challenge than being up against any opponent. She contacted him to renew their partnership. The Asian swing season had started and entering Zhengzhou she though might start to get more positive for her being that last year she won Wuhan, having Tursunov would be a good thing.
Sabalenka was defeated in the quarterfinal by Petra Martic. The Croatian had spice to her shots and much of the answers to Sabalenka's hard hitting rallies. It took three sets but the Belarusian lost to Martic 7-5, 5-7, 6-4.
Wuhan was next, the special tournament that Sabalenka won last year. She had many a difficult rounds but managed to get to the semifinal but with Ashleigh Barty the WTA's no. 1. They've played only once before and Barty won at the Australian Open her home turf.
Sabalenka knew she had to come on like the tiger on her forearm to defeat Barty and managed to get the advantage. It was a straight set win of 7-5, 6-4. Barty had to have a medical time out for a pesty calf muscle ailment, but after that things started to go the way of Sabalenka.
She was glad of asking her coach to return and happier that he hadn't found another willing player able to grab him up on the quest for defending her title at Wuhan.