June 24, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Stomach bug – and Andreeva – fell Sabalenka in Paris

ROLAND GARROS – Despite visibly struggling with something during her Roland Garros quarterfinal against Mirra Andreeva Wednesday, Aryna Sabalenka almost pulled it off.

In the end, the world No. 2 was beaten 6-7, (5), 6-4, 6-4 by the 17-year-old Andreeva, who moves on to the semifinals on Thursday against another surprise, No. 12 seed Jasmine Paolini.

It turns it out it was some sort of stomach bug.

We half-joked during the match that it was probably bad sushi in the player’s restaurant. But it seemed clear it wasn’t an abdominal injury, because she likely would have had a medical time out and gotten taped. It could have been a stomach ailment. Or a gastrointestinal illness – this is a feature, not a bug, of the women’s tour at times. Or perhaps, even … you know … the unmentionable thing.

Sabalenka did not come in for her press conference after the match, which was understandable.

MANY hours later, the WTA provided a few quotes that shed little light, but at least confirmed it wasn’t a physical injury.

“Yes, I had a difficult time out there physically today. I have been very sick the last few days with some kind of stomach bug, so it’s been a challenge,” was the quote from Sabalenka.

Sabalenka tried a few meds at the start of the match to try to get through it. But to no avail.

Battled to the end

On the somewhat-plus side, Sabalenka got through it without an indelible Samprasian memory that would go down in history (ask your parents). For awhile there, that looked like a possibility.

It takes nothing away from her teenaged opponent’s accomplishment to laud Sabalenka for battling hard, when it was evident she was in a pretty bad way.

She said she just kept on, in the hope that she might feel a bit better as the match went on.

But it didn’t really happen. Although it almost did.

And as she walked off the court, can of Coke in hand, the highly anticipated semifinal between she and No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina remained only a paper match.

Instead, it will be the 28-year-old Paolini, who went out after her shocking win over Rybakina and made the doubles semifinal with countrywoman Sara Errani. And it will be Andreeva, who was also alive in the women’s doubles with Vera Zvonareva, but opted to withdraw.

It might be just as well for both that they don’t have a day to sit around and let the magnitude of their accomplishment rattle around in their brain. They can just go back out there and keep doing what the’ve been doing.

One of them will be a Roland Garros finalist, to play either defending champion and world No. 1 Iga Swiatek or former Roland Garros finalist Coco Gauff.

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