Sabalenka, Mertens Maintain Collision Course In Linz

Aryna Sabalenka (photo: Upper Austria Ladies Linz/Getty Images)

STARNBERG/LINZ, November 13, 2020

Three of the top four seeds at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA International Event.

On the “Day of the Linz AG”, No. 1 favourite Aryna Sabalenka benefited from the retirement of French qualifier Oceane Dodin. The World No. 11 from Belarus was leading 6-3, 3-3 when Dodin was forced to stop playing due to a right ankle injury.

“Oceane played really well and fought for every ball. It was tough and I am sorry for her. I wish her all the best,” Sabalenka said right after the match.

“From the US Open, I remember how well she serves, and I also remembered some of her favourite spots to serve. She hits so flat and deep, so I was going to have to be really quick with my feet and stay low. She made a lot of crazy winners, so I’m sorry that she hurt her ankle. I hope she gets better soon.”

Krejcikova continues good run of form

The 22-year-old Minsk native will take on Barbora Krejcikova from the Czech Republic in the stage of the final four.

Krejcikova, former World No. 1 in the doubles ranking, last made it to a semi-final on the WTA Tour in singles three years ago, when she finished runner-up to Kiki Bertens at the Nürnberger Versicherungscup as a qualifier. The 24-year-old Brno native has backed up her fourth round run at Roland Garros in some style in Linz, dismissing Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus 6-3, 6-1 in 67 minutes on Centre Court.

“I’m really happy,” Krejcikova said. “This means a lot to me that I’m even able to be here and able to play. It’s obviously very difficult with everything happening in the world right now. I’m just really fortunate to be able to compete, have fun, and enjoy tennis.”

Sabalenka and Krejcikova will meet for the first time. “We played in doubles and it was always tough,” Sabalenka said of her upcoming opponent. “She serves and moves well. I will speak to my coach and I am looking forward to the match.”

Mertens advances

No. 2 seed Elise Mertens defeated No. 5 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 6-4, 6-1. The 24-year-old from Belgium won 59 per cent of the total points played to prevail after one hour and 30 minutes.

“I managed it pretty well today. It was a bit of a slow start but after that I played much better,” Mertens commented on her third victory over Kudermetova in as many meetings. “I tried to keep putting that one more ball in because she is a hard hitter and has great strokes but can make mistakes, too. I tried to play aggressively but also let her make a mistake.”

Mertens will next take on No. 4 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia, who cruised past No. 6 seed Nadia Podoroska from Argentina 6-2, 6-1. The World No. 33 saved both two break points she faced and capitalized on four of her own six break-point opportunities to advance in only 58 minutes.

Corona tests for a safe environment

The health of everyone involved in the event is top priority for the Upper Austria Ladies Linz. The Dr. Schobesberger Labordiagnostik GmbH is the tournament’s official health and hygiene partner and ensures ideal health protection.

Molecular biological tests (PCR tests) are regularly carried out on players and then evaluated around the clock. MR Dr. Gerhard Schobesberger LL.M. PM.ME, head of laboratory diagnostics in Steyr, conducts the tests together with Dr. Rainer Hennecke, the Tournament Infection Control Officer (TICO), and also takes care of the players’ testing procedures himself. This close co-operation guarantees the safety of everyone involved.