Giorgi upsets Sabalenka as Salisbury progresses to doubles final
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Qualifier Camila Giorgi stunned the Viking International Eastbourne crowds as she defeated World No.4 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (5), 0-6, 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes.
Giorgi – who has already defeated former champion Karolina Pliskova and Shelby Rogers this week – was kicked into life after Sabalenka cruised to an early break to love in the opening game.
Gradually the World No.75 started to get the better of the Belarusian in the longer exchanges, matching her power and forcing a few errors to creep into Sabalenka’s game. On the third time of asking Giorgi broke back to level the scores at 4-4.
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The pair went blow for blow at the back of the court but with little to separate them, the opener went to a tie-break. Evenly poised at 5-4 Sabalenka hit a huge serve down the tee, which was met by an inch perfect slice eventually forced an erratic forehand error from the No.1 seed. With another shot drifting long, the Italian qualifier took a one set lead.
In the second set Sabalenka once again came out all guns blazing, but this time managed to hold her level. Everything that Giorgi had fought for in the opener came undone almost instantaneously as the 2018 runner-up lost only 10 points to take the set 6-0.
The decider had an edgy feel to it – with the disastrous second set behind her, Giorgi managed to find her rhythm again, but both players struggled to hold serve and take command. Sabalenka took a 3-1 lead but an easy miss on a backhand passing shot at the start of the game epitomised a frustrating afternoon for the Belarusian.
Giorgi’s movement around the court caused Sabalenka problems all day and she managed to break her opponent four times in the final set to complete the upset of the tournament.
“I think it was a great match. I was very consistent, was a very good level – at the end was I think more mental than the game,” she said.
“I think it's very good to play many matches, especially in that period of the year. So I think this helps, and especially it can improve my game.”
Giorgi will face Anett Kontaveit in the semi-finals, who came from a set down to defeat Viktorija Golubic 2-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5 in a highly entertaining match on Court 1.
Meanwhile, Jelena Ostapenko dazzled the crowds with her attacking flair as she too came from a set behind to clinch a 1-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina. Ostapenko hit 38 winners en route to her second semi-final of the year. She plays Elena Rybikana in the semi's.
In the men’s draw, third seed Lorenzo Sonego put in an impressive performance to beat Alexander Bublik 6-1, 7-5.
The Italian was in inspired form in the opening set, hitting winners from all areas of the court and capitalising on a lethargic start from the World No.34.
In a bid to get back into the match after going a set down, Bublik – who is renowned for his tricks and character on the court – pulled out all the stops. He was putting everything he had behind the ball and at 3-3, even tried six underarm serves in the same game.
Sonego showed brilliant focus to keep his game in check despite Bublik’s alternative style of plays and the 2021 Sardegna Open champion managed to come through in straight sets
In the semi-finals he will play Australia’s Max Purcell who produced another shock result, defeating Andreas Seppi 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. Purcell only won his first tour match earlier this year but the lucky loser has been on fire this week having already beaten top seed Gael Monfils as well.
Completing the men’s semi-finals are Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, who is on a phenomenal run after coming in as the fifth lucky loser, and second seed Alex de Minaur, who came through in two sets against Vasek Pospisil.
Britain’s Joe Salisbury and his partner Rajeev Ram have reached the final of the men’s doubles after winning back-to-back matches on the same day. In the semi-finals they put up an excellent display to beat second seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-0, 6-7 (0), 10-6.
They will play the in-form Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic – who defeated the British American duo in the final in Rome this year – for a shot at the title.