Sabalenka Joins Florida’s Capriati in Achieving Unique Tennis Record at the French Open
By Space Coast Daily // June 7, 2023
The ultimate goal of any sportsperson in individual sports is to collect as many major trophies as possible.
To do that, you need to win matches – something that Aryna Sabalenka has become a dab hand at in recent times.
The Belarussian has won her first 12 games in a row at major tournaments in 2023, putting her in an elite group of just four other players to achieve that feat this century.
One of the others? Florida’s own Jennifer Capriati.
Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, is on course to add a second major title to her name, with the French Open women’s odds making her the 13/5 second favorite to triumph at Roland Garros. Karolina Muchova (16/1) will be hoping to halt her progress in the semi-finals.
That’s a contest that Sabalenka is a warm favorite to win, and her progress on the clay this season has been in stark contrast to her relative struggles on the surface in years gone by. The 25-year-old had ever gone beyond the third round of the French Open until 2023, but this year alone she has won the Madrid Open, reached the final of the Porsche Grand Prix in Stuttgart and made serene progress at Roland Garros.
Thank you @mutuamadridopen for two unforgettable weks for me
I really enjoyed playing here in Madrid and this is defiantly one of my favorite events on tour! Thanks to everyone for your support throughout whole tournament ,it was amazing playing in front of you guys ❤️❤️❤️ #13 pic.twitter.com/k3FuzalV1a
— Sabalenka Aryna (@SabalenkaA) May 7, 2023
Up until the semi-finals, Sabalenka is yet to drop a set on what is one of the hardest surfaces on which to hold your serve – a key weapon in the Belarussian’s arsenal. The likes of Elina Svitolina and American hope Sloan Stephens have been defeated without any great concern.
Now she will be looking to emulate the achievements of Capriati in becoming a French Open champion.
Queen of Clay
It’s still staggering to recall when Florida’s Capriati reached the semi-finals of the French Open on her debut back in 1990!
All told, she would reach at least the quarter-final stage in Paris on six different occasions – finally getting her hands on the famous trophy in 2001 after more than a decade of trying.
That was a golden year for Capriati, who won a staggering 19 grand slam matches in a row, before tasting defeat in the semi-finals of Wimbledon.
She would also reach the last four at the U.S. Open in 2001, before doubling up at the Australian Open the following year to clinch her third and final major title.
Having reached the semi-finals – at least – of 13 Grand Slam events, with an Olympic gold medal in her collection as well (won on the clay of Barcelona in 1992), Capriati’s career is one that most players would dream of replicating.
Whether Sabalenka can do that remains to be seen, but she’s already in esteemed company having won her first 12 major matches of the year. The only other players to do that – Capriati, Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Victoria Azarenka – are all multiple-time Grand Slam winners and former world number ones.
Those are some big shoes for Sabalenka to fill, although she’s certainly on the right path to emulating those modern greats of women’s tennis.