Skip to content
Aryna Sabalenka, soon to be world number 1, advances to the semi-finals of the US Open


Aryna Sabalenka has achieved the impossible: she has gone unnoticed even though she will soon be the best player in the world.

And after reaching the semifinals with a dominating 6-1, 6-4 loss to Zheng Qinwen on Wednesday, she hopes to add the US Open title.

“I just gave myself another opportunity to do better in the semi-finals,” Sabalenka said on the pitch after her win. “Of course I’m happy (to be world No. 1) and it’s really important for me and my family; but I still have things to do in New York. I’m trying to focus on my game and I’ll think about becoming world No. 1 after the US Open.

While the focus has shifted to others like Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek – from whom Sabalenka will take the top spot next week – Sabalenka has chained win after win like a machine.

“I have to fight for this. I know if I will be there, if I will fight for my dream, I know I can achieve it,” Sabalenka said. “After a really difficult last season, I keep reminding myself that I went through a really difficult situation and I can handle anything.

“It really helps keep me strong and motivated.”

Aryna Sabalenka celebrates after scoring a dominating 6-1, 6-4 loss to Zheng Qinwen in their US Open quarter-final match.
Annie Wermiel/NY Post

After Sabalenka’s service went wrong earlier this year, she brought in a biometrics expert to fix the problem.

“I’ve suffered some very tough defeats this year. But we don’t lose; we are learning,” Sabalenka said. “I’m confident that all those tough matches I lost will help me in other tough battles in the future.”

This fight suits the woman with the tiger tattoo.

The tattoo on his left forearm not only refers to his birth year 1998, which was the year of the Earth Tiger in the Chinese zodiac, but also to his tenacity.

This week, performance trainer Jason Stacy warned, “be careful when putting a predator in the corner” in reference to her becoming #1 and going from hunter to hunter.

“Jason just comes from, how to say, he’s a fighter, jujitsu, and they really like to talk a lot,” Sabalenka said with a laugh.

“People will try to chase me and catch me, but that’s just extra motivation for me. Seeing them do their best to beat me is extra power and energy for me to keep playing, to keep pushing, to keep improving.

Aryna Sabalenka, soon to be world number 1, advances to the semi-finals of the US Open
Aryna Sabalenka hits a backhand in her US Open quarter-final victory.
Annie Wermiel/NY Post

Sabalenka became the only active woman to reach the semi-finals of all four majors in a year since Serena Williams in 2016.

After losing in the semifinals at the last two US Opens, Sabalenka hasn’t dropped a set this year and has lost 21 matches in total in five appearances.

“I’m going to do everything I can to stay until the end,” said Sabalenka, who scored 17 game winners and never faced a break point.

Next Thursday, the winner of the match will be against American No. 17 Madison Keys, 2017 US Open runner-up, or Marketa Vondrousova later on Wednesday.