Quarterfinal action continued at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix as Marketa Vondrousova joined Elena Rybakina in the final four, stunning Aryna Sabalenka, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, for her first Top 10 win since July.

"It was a very tough match, and I think a great one, too," Vondrousova told former player Andrea Petkovic on court after the match. "She's a great player so I just tried to stay in the rallies. She hits very fast so it's tough to do something! But I stayed calm in the crucial moments."

Sabalenka had finished runner-up at the indoor clay WTA 500 event for the last three years, but her quest for a fourth straight final came to a frustrating end at the hands of the reigning Wimbledon champion, who rallied from a set down to stun the No. 2 seed and score her biggest win since Wimbledon in two hours and one minute on Center Court.

After starting the 2024 season with a triumphant defense of her Australian Open title, Sabalenka has suffered through an emotional spring, mourning the loss of ex-partner Konstantin Koltsov.

The start of her clay-court campaign came with its own adversity as a lengthy opening match against Paula Badosa ended in tears for her injured friend. The result nonetheless booked her a quarterfinal meeting with Vondrousova, the No. 6 seed who was yet to drop a set in Stuttgart after wins over Donna Vekic and 2023 semifinalist Anastasia Potapova.

Sabalenka and Vondrousova’s head-to-head stood at 4-2 in favor of the world No. 2, who had won their last four matches, but Stuttgart would serve as their first on clay. While Vondrousova shocked the tennis would by capturing her first major title on the lawns of Wimbledon, clay had long been the 24-year-old’s preferred surface, finishing runner up at 2019 Roland Garros and reaching the semifinals at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia the following year.


"I didn't know [how to play on grass either] before Wimby!" Vondrousova joked of her SW19 success. "I don't know what happened, but I had a great year last year and I'm happy to continue."

Sabalenka enjoyed a bright start, cleanly striking the ball and even attempting a tweener to earn a 3-1 advantage. Though Vondrousova broke back to level, the 25-year-old bore down to reel off the next three games, ending the set with an even 10 winners to 10 unforced errors.

The second set saw Vondrousova make a push as Sabalenka dealt with mounting frustration at her inability to hit through the crafty Czech. Despite losing a 4-1 lead, Vondrousova broke Sabalenka for a third time—off a double fault—and gamely served it out to force a decider.

Vondrousova continued to frustrate Sabalenka off the ground, forcing her into numerous errors to nab the first break of the final set. Just as she trailed Badosa 1-3 in the third two days earlier, Sabalenka found herself in the same position and game for the challenge as she took a 0-40 lead on Vondrousova’s serve. Though Vondrousova saved all three, Sabalenka quickly gained a fourth and outrallied her rival to even the score at three games apiece.

Serving woes that plagued her for much of 2022 came back to haunt Sabalenka as she again exchanged breaks with Vondrousova, but the world No. 2 shrugged off nine double faults to serve her way to a 5-4 advantage.

Serving two points from defeat, Vondrousova reeled off the next seven in a row, nailing a volley to turn the tables on Sabalenka and find herself serving for the match.

"We had such great rallies, and I think this was the most important one," Vondrousova said.

Digging out of another 15-30 deficit, Vondrousova clinched the upset off one last missed return from Sabalenka to edge over the finish line.

Awaiting her in the semifinals will be winner of the last quarterfinal of the evening between No. 3 seed and reigning US Open champion Coco Gauff and Marta Kostyuk, who saved a whopping five match points to defeat Australian Open finalist Zheng Qinwen on Thursday.