Pain-free Sabalenka keeps close eye on back injury before French Open

tennis17 May 2024 05:24| © Reuters
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Aryna Sabalenka © Gallo Images

World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka said she is playing without pain following a lower back injury in Rome but will not hesitate to pull out of Saturday's final with Iga Swiatek if the issue flares up and threatens her French Open participation.

Sabalenka sustained the injury during her fourth-round clash with Elina Svitolina, where the Belarusian needed a long medical timeout and saved three match points to prevail as the contest spilt into the early hours of Tuesday.

The Australian Open champion skipped practice and spent her rest day undergoing treatment before easing past former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-4 in the next round and Danielle Collins 7-5 6-2 in the semifinals.

"I was considering retiring from the tournament. Lucky me, I had an extra day. I was doing a lot of recovery. I'm still doing lots of exercise, treatments, taking care of my lower back. It's getting better. I guess we're on the right way," Sabalenka said.

"I'm doing everything to recover as fast as I can and to be ready for Paris. Right now I'm feeling great. I'm not in pain during matches.

"Of course, if something is going to happen in the match I'm going to pull out, because Paris is around the corner. Hopefully it's not going to happen. I feel like it's not going to."

Sabalenka, who is bidding to avenge a three-sets defeat by world No 1 Swiatek in a gripping Madrid final earlier this month, paid tribute to the physiotherapists in Rome.

"It was a crazy injury. I thought, 'Okay, I'm done in Rome'. But we did a great treatment, great physios," Sabalenka said.

"I really appreciate the physio that helped me to stay alive and actually fix the problem."

The French Open begins on May 26.