Sabalenka remains calm despite the delay

The first semi-final at the BNP Paribas Open was scheduled for Friday afternoon at 3pm.

The first ball was not hit until 3:39 p.m. And it wasn’t because of a rain delay either. No, the audio system in Stadium 1 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden was not working and as a result the match between Aryna Sabalenka and Maria Sakkari could not start as the electronic out-calls were not heard by the players or anyone else.

It first became apparent that there was a problem when the players entered the pitch and the introductions could not be heard. Throughout the delay, players stayed on the pitch, hoping for a quick resolution to the issue. More than 30 minutes later the game finally started.

“For a second I thought, ‘Oops, something’s going wrong today,'” Sabalenka joked in her post-match press conference after beating Sakkari 6-2, 6-3. “It won’t be the same. But then I remind myself that that’s okay. Things like that can happen, and that’s okay. So I just need to calm down and relax somehow and wait for them to fix the system.

“(I’m) glad it didn’t really affect my game.

“It definitely helped me stay calm and understand that I can control myself in situations like this,” added the world No. 2 when asked about the different overall feeling she seems to be having this year. “I can change my focus in situations like this and get myself back on the pitch. That helps to understand in the future that I can control myself better, no matter what happens on the pitch. That helped me play my best tennis.”

Sabalenka certainly played her best tennis all season. She is 18-1 with titles in Adelaide and the Australian Open. In Sunday’s Indian Wells final, she meets Elena Rybakina in a replay of the Australian Open final.


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