Aryna Sabalenka is through to the Australian Open semifinals after defeating Barbora Krejcikova 6-2 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Even prior to the match against Krejcikova, Sabalenka was leaving no doubt as to who is arguably playing the best tennis at the Australian Open. In her first and third-round matches alone, Sabalenka lost a combined one game.
For most players, Sabalenka's power is just too difficult to overcome. She moves decently well and doesn't come into the net all that often. She would rather blast away from the baseline. That plan works for her for the most part so why would she change when she doesn't need to?
Sure, she likely needs to learn to adapt a bit more. Against players close to her talent level, such as Iga Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka needs to find a way to use more touch and be a bit more aggressive. Otherwise, Swiatek will take advantage of how Sabalenka plays. Of course, Sabalenka doesn't have to worry about Swiatek at this year's Australian Open as Swiatek was bounced out in the third round.
Aryna Sabalenka moves on to Australian Open semifinals after defeating Barbora Krejcikova
Plus, maybe Sabalenka is feeling a bit different from all the other players. She should. As the top-ranked women's player who is sponsored by Nike, she was gifted a red dress to play in. The color differs from everyone else sponsored by Nike. But Sabalenka did want to make clear in her press conference following her victory over Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round that Sabalenka did not choose the kit she is wearing during matches; the kit chose her.
According to Sabalenka, "I'm the only player who's wearing red dress. It's not like I was included in part of the process...(Nike) just showed me the dress I will play with, and I was super excited to wear the only red dress. I really thank Nike that they give me this opportunity to feel special. But, of course, I want to have something more, like not just the different color."
Sabalenka was half-joking, of course. She was happy to look different from every player, but she is certainly playing differently than everyone else. She won the Australian Open in 2023 and she looks unbeatable at the 2024 version. The Belarusian has no chance to catch Swiatek atop the WTA rankings since Sabalenka won the Australian Open last year, but a win at the Grand Slam could give her all the momentum she needs to pass Swiatek sooner rather than later.