Novak Djokovic sends ‘funny’ message to Aryna Sabalenka while at US Open

Chinese tennis star Wu Yibing on his journey to ATP Tour

The US Open has already been a success for Aryna Sabalenka, whether she wins it or not. The number two seed is already into the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows and her potential path to glory has become even clearer after Iga Swiatek suffered a surprise defeat to Jelena Ostapenko in the Round of 16.

As a result, Sabalenka now knows that even if she doesn’t win another game in New York this week, she will leapfrog Swiatek and become world No 1 for the first time once the final Grand Slam of the season is concluded.

The Belarusian’s place in the final eight was secured after she beat Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-3 in the Arthur Ashe Stadium. Her next opponent was expected to be Ons Jabeur but the Tunisian was left stunned after she was eliminated by China’s Qinwen Zheng 6-2, 6-4.

Despite suffering an earlier-than-expected exit, Jabeur was one of several players to send congratulatory messages to Sabalenka after her rise to the summit of women’s elite tennis was confirmed.

But another star of the sport who himself will become a No 1 once more next week also got in on the action.

Speaking about the goodwill messages she has received in her post-match press conference, Sabalenka said: “I have read Ons’s words, he has been very kind. Despite being upset with her defeat, she came to congratulate me. I love this girl, she is amazing, she is the best.

“I received many messages of support from people, from players, but the funniest was from [Novak] Djokovic, who will also return to No. 1 in the world after this US Open.

“Someone drew us with those fun sunglasses and he sent it to me, ‘Smile, you will soon become No 1 in the world.’ I would say it was the most fun.”

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Sabalenka will be hot favourite against world No 23 Zheng when the two go head-to-head on Wednesday. The winner will be rewarded with a semi-final against either Marketa Vondrousova or home favourite Massion Keys.

Sabalenka is in pursuit of the second Grand Slam title of her career after winning the Australian Open in January. She has also previously been a US Open semi-finalist in her last two appearances at Flushing Meadows and reached the same stage of this year’s French Open and Wimbledon Championship, repeating her SW19 exploits of two years ago.

Speaking about becoming the new world No 1, she said: “It really means a lot for me, a lot for my family and it’s just unbelievable. It’s something crazy. I still can’t believe it.”

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