Tennis: Kanepi stuns Sabalenka to reach Australian Open quarterfinals

Reuters

Posted at Jan 24 2022 11:54 PM

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi in action during her 4th round match against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open on January 24, 2022. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake, Reuters
Estonia's Kaia Kanepi in action during her 4th round match against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open on January 24, 2022. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake, Reuters

MELBOURNE—Estonia's Kaia Kanepi rallied from a set down to topple Belarusian world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(10) on Margaret Court Arena in a tight contest on Monday to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time.

Having surrendered the opening set for 3 matches in a row, Sabalenka took a 1-set lead for the first time in Melbourne but was unable to build on it as her serving issues resurfaced once again.

Kanepi was gifted a double break early in the 2nd set with back-to-back double faults from her 23-year-old opponent and did not waste the opportunity as she cruised to a 4-0 lead before taking the set.

The 36-year-old carried that momentum into the decider and looked set to go 5-3 up but Sabalenka saved 4 break points to hold for 3-4 and level it, before suffering a service meltdown again and hitting 3 double faults in 4 points.

Kanepi was made to work for her victory after being unable to close the match from 40-0 up as Sabalenka saved four match points, but the Estonian prevailed in the tiebreak and converted her 5th match point to complete the upset.

Kanepi will take on Polish 7th seed Iga Swiatek, who beat Sorana Cirstea 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 earlier on Monday, for a place in the last 4. (Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)