World No. 10 Aryna Sabalenka reached the Abu Dhabi quarterfinals on Sunday with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Ons Jabeur, improving to 12-0 since losing to the Tunisian at Roland Garros last October.
Since Jabeur won that third-round clash in Paris, Sabalenka’s been unstoppable—she went 9-0 the rest of the 2020 season, picking up indoor titles in Ostrava, Czech Republic and Linz, Austria, and she’s now added three more wins to her streak to reach the last eight in Abu Dhabi, not even dropping a set.
She came close on Sunday, though. After storming through the first set in just 27 minutes and holding for a 2-1 lead in the second set, she watched on as Jabeur caught fire, winning three straight games to go up 4-2—Sabalenka retaliated with four games in a row of her own to close it out, though.
"It was a tough one, but what I think I did well was I didn't give her any time to play, to make her trick shots. That's why I think she didn't feel really well on the court," Sabalenka said. "That's what I needed at Roland Garros. The courts were really slow there and she had the time, and it was really tricky.
"I think that was the key for today's win."
As the wins pile up, so do the expectations to keep the streak alive—but Sabalenka's unburdened.
"What happened in the past happened in the past, and I don't want to focus on the past," she said. "Yeah I've won 12 matches, but tomorrow's another day, and I'll do everything I can to win another one. I'm not afraid of losing—this is part of our job. But I'll do everything I can to keep winning."
The Belarusian's on an eight-match winning streak in the Middle East, too. Her last appearance in the region came in Doha last February, where she won the title, beating Petra Kvitova in the final.
Awaiting No. 4 seed Sabalenka in the quarters will be No. 6 seed Elena Rybakina, who outdid former Top 10 player Daria Kasatkina, 6-3, 6-4, in the second match of the day on Centre Court. The two have met once before, with Sabalenka beating Rybakina in the quarters of Wuhan in 2019, 6-3, 1-6, 6-1.
"Rybakina, she's a really aggressive player with a big serve. It's going to be a really tough one," she said. "I'll just need to be ready for her serves and quick shots, stay low and move really well."