Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Total Open
Aryna Sabalenka advances to the Semifinals
Tremendous rematch of 2019’s championship match in San Jose. Six months ago, SaiSai Zheng won that battle. At first, tonight’s clash looked like an identical contest. Zheng broke before the second changeover, then twice more to take set-1 (6-3). And just like San Jose’s Final, set-2 came down to the wire. This time however, Aryna Sabalenka edged Zheng to force the decider, and came-back from a break-down to win it.
After a tough preseason, where Aryna had to bury her 43-year-old father, the World #13 continues to make waves. Last month, she upset Simona Halep to reach the Semi’s in Adelaide. Tonight, she overcame difficult memories of missed opportunity in her last clash with Zheng to reach the Semifinals in her Qatar Total Open debut.
Head to Head: Fourth meeting between these two players
 Aryna Sabalenka -13- (BLR) | Quarterfinal Announcer Introduction
A 2-time Premier-5 Champion, she’s here in Doha for the first time – and defeated World #20 Anett Kontaveit, then World #20 Maria Sakkari to reach today’s Quarterfinal. Last season, she lit it up — In Singles, she captured 3 of her 5 career titles, including the year-end WTA Elite Trophy, and cracked the top-10 for the first time. In Doubles, she and partner Elise Mertens won back-to-back titles at Indian Wells and Miami, then lifted their first Grand Slam trophy at the US Open. She owns 12-wins over top-10 opponents, and earned her biggest scalp back in September, defeating World #1 Ashleigh Barty en-route to her 2nd Wuhan Open title. From Belarus – please welcome Aryna Sabalenka.
- QF — W | Saisai Zheng -37- (CHN) | Score: 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3
- R3 — W |  Maria Sakkari -20- (GRE) | Score: 6-3, 6-0 | RECAP
- R2 — W | Anett Kontaveit -22- (EST) | Score: 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
Announcer Corner | Doha: Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka is excited to be here. Last season, she took a week off between Fed Cup and Dubai. Meanwhile, her long-time doubles partner Elise Mertens captured the Doha Singles title behind three top-10 upsets. In the Quarters, Mertens bested World #8 Kiki Bertens. In the Semi’s, she upset World #6 Angelique Kerber. And in the championship match – down a set and a break – Elise came back to defeat top-seed and World #3 Simona Halep.
The 9-seed this week, Aryna got off to a fortunate start. After Halep’s victory in the Dubai Final on Saturday night, Simona withdrew from the Qatar Total Open. That withdrawal granted Aryna a 1st-Round Bye. Rested and ready, she opened her campaign in Round-2 versus Anett Kontaveit, who had battled for an hour and 39-minutes with Anastasija Sevastova the day before. Anette launched a stellar comeback in set-2, but Aryna proved too stong in the 3rd – winning the match with a late break in the decider.
After a quick win over Maria Sakkari and today’s tense battle with an inspired SaiSai Zheng, Sabalanka’s back in the Final-4 of a WTA Premier-5 for the fourth time. 18-months ago, she reached her first Premier-5 Semifinal in Cincinnati. She won back-to-back titles in Wuhan. A victory this week would make her a 3-time Premier-5 champion, and get her one step closer to breaking back inside the top-10.
Aryna Sabalenka | Overcoming heartbreak and continuing to excel
It’s encouraging to see Sabalenka’s continued success. She had a terrible off-season. Shortly after winning the year-end WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, her father unexpectedly passed away at just 43 years old. Suddenly she found herself without the encouraging rock who introduced her to the game. Aryna’s Dad always pushed her, with unwavering belief she could one day become World #1.
Her determined persistence this season is a tribute to her Dad’s love and support. While she fell early in Shenzhen during week-1 – the following week she upset Simona Halep to reach the Adelaide Semifinals. Earlier this month, she partnered with Aliaksandra Sasnovich to earn a thrilling, deciding-set tiebreak victory over the Netherlands, lifting Belarus into the Fed Cup Finals this April. Last week, she reached the Quarters in Dubai, falling to eventual champion Simona Halep.
Like Amanda Anisimova and Jelena Ostapenko – who also lost their Dads in the last 6-months – Aryna continues to fight, honoring her father’s years of sacrifice, helping her pursue greatness.
Saisai Zheng -37- (CHN) | Quarterfinal Announcer Introduction
On Saturday Night, she competed in her 10th career WTA Doubles Final in Dubai. On Monday, she took-out World #18 Marketa Vondrousova — On Tuesday, 2011 Doha Champion Vera Zvonareva — And yesterday, earned her 6th top-10 victory, upsetting World #6 Kiki Bertens to reach tonight’s Quarterfinal. But she’s been here before – 4-years-ago on this court, she upset World #2 and reigning Australian Open Champion Angelique Kerber en-route to her first Premier-5 Quarterfinal. In all, she owns 1 WTA Singles title, 4 Doubles titles, and is a Grand Slam Doubles Finalist. Back in the Final-8 after another tremendous week in Doha – From China, please welcome Zheng SaiSai.
- QF — L |  Aryna Sabalenka -13- (BLR) | Score: 6-3, 6-7(2), 3-6
- R3 — W |  Kiki Bertens -06- (NED) | Score: 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 | RECAP
- R2 — W | [WC] Vera Zvonareva -101- (RUS) | Score: 7-5, 6-1 | RECAP
- R1 — W |  Marketa Vondrousova -18- (CZE) | Score: 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 | RECAP
Announcer Corner | Doha: Saisai Zheng
Two of SaiSai Zheng’s biggest career Singles victories have happened on center court in Doha. Yesterday, she upset World #6 Kiki Bertens, earning her 6th career top-10 victory. 4-years-ago, she upset World #2 and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. Keep an eye on Zheng throughout the rest of the season. After the Kerber victory in 2016, she went on to defeat World #5 Agnieszka Radwanska in the opening round of the Summer Games in Rio.
It’s been a sensational 8-months for SaiSai Zheng.
- May – At Roland Garros, she reached her first Grand Slam Doubles Final with partner YinYin Duan – a career goal since turning professional 12-years-ago.
- August – Captured her first WTA Singles title in San Jose, thanks to determined top-10 victory over Aryna Sabalenka in Final.
- October – Climbed to a career-high ranking of World #36, and finished the season with a Semifinal run in Singles at the WTA Elite Trophy as a Wild Card.
- January – Opened the new year by reaching her 9th WTA Doubles Final in Shenzhen.
- February – On Saturday night, reached her 10th WTA Doubles Final in Dubai. Then last night, earned her 6th career top-10 win, defeating World #6 Kiki Bertens in a deciding set