Aryna Sabalenka issues ankle injury update ahead of Emma Raducanu Indian Wells match

Sabalenka rolled her ankle but still managed to beat Peyton Stearns and a set up a match versus Raducanu in Indian Wells.

by Dzevad Mesic
Aryna Sabalenka issues ankle injury update ahead of Emma Raducanu Indian Wells match
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Aryna Sabalenka described her Indian Wells thriller win over Peyton Stearns as "really crazy" and shared that she hopes and expects to be fine after badly rolling her ankle in "one of the craziest matches of my career."

On Saturday night in Indian Wells, No. 2 seed Sabalenka had her back turned against the wall when Stearns had a 5-4 lead and 40-0 on her serve in the 10th game of the third set. But then, Sabalenka came up big as she saved those three consecutive match points, as well as the fourth match point in the same game, before going on to clinch a 6-7 (2) 6-2 7-6 (6) win in just less than three hours of play.

After her first-ever meeting against Stearns, the two-time Grand Slam champion was full of praise for the American's performance and spoke very highly of the 22-year-old's game. 

"Well, this match was really crazy, and I really think it was a super high-level match. She played incredible tennis. I kept telling myself, 'Stay there, fight for every point. You never know what's going to happen.' Probably this is the match for a crazy comeback, and I did it," Sabalenka said after her win.

"I'm super happy that I didn't give up on that score, and I was really pushing myself hard, even though I didn't play my best tennis and she was crushing it like crazy. I was just like trying to stay in the game and keep fighting for every point.

"But this match definitely goes into the book of craziest matches and the best matches of my career."

Aryna Sabalenka and Peyton Stearns
Aryna Sabalenka and Peyton Stearns© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Sabalenka on rolling her ankle late in the match

After saving four match points and tying the third set to five games apiece, Sabalenka rolled her ankle and got broken again. With a rolled ankle and Stearns serving for the match again, the world No. 2 managed to get the break back again and force a tie-break, where she missed out on three match points before earning and realizing her fourth match point to complete a wild win over Stearns. 

Following her win, Sabalenka admitted she initially felt pain and discomfort after turning her ankle. Also, Sabalenka added she is confident that her physio will make sure her ankle is fine for her upcoming Indian Wells third-round match against Emma Raducanu. 

"It was bad in first seconds, but then slowly it was getting better and I felt like, okay, I'm ready to play. But in that moment when they twisted a little bit, I thought, 'Oh, God, what I did wrong? It's happening to me,'" Sabalenka said. 

"But I was trying, this is just the proof that I was trying so hard to get to every ball and to put every ball back. Yeah, but now I feel okay. We'll see tomorrow. But I have a great team, and I'm pretty sure they will take care of it so for the next match I will be ready."

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Sabalenka: I'm quite experienced in twisting my ankle

The moment of Sabalenka rolling her ankle didn't look good but a serious injury was avoided. In her post-match press conference, 25-year-old Sabalenka noted that by now she is well-adjusted to twisting ankles and credited knowing how to react in such situations as one of the big reasons why she managed to escape a serious injury. 

"I would say I quite experienced in twisting my ankle and I know the way how to get out of that and not get injured," Sabalenka added.

"And that's why I like my shoes, because I have a good control on my feet there. I think right before that, like, really crazy twist I was able to kind of let it go, and kind of, like, save myself.

"So I feel like it should be okay."

On Monday, Sabalenka will return to action and meet 2021 US Open champion Raducanu, in a match that will certainly highlight third-round action of the women's event in the desert. When Sabalenka and 21-year-old Raducanu meet on Monday, it will be the first time that they are playing against each other.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Michael Owens

Going into the match, there is no doubt that Sabalenka will take Raducanu very seriously. So far in Indian Wells, Raducanu has been looking great as she saw off Rebeka Masarova 6-2 6-3 and had a 4-0 lead over Dayana Yastremska before this year's Australian Open semifinalist retired from their match.

One of the things to look out for will be Sabalenka's ankle as the second-seeded Belarusian will need to be fit in order to be able to play her best. If Sabalenka's ankle starts causing trouble, it could get really ugly for the world No. 2 against Raducanu. 

Aryna Sabalenka Emma Raducanu Peyton Stearns