Tennis commentator Jelena Dokic was granted an odd request from Aryna Sabalenka after the defending champion booked her spot in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
In a match that started more than two hours late because of farcical scheduling, the world No.2 put on another clinic on Rod Laver Arena to beat ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova 6-2 6-3 in 71 minutes.
After the match, former world No.4 Dokic conducted the on-court interview.
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There were the normal questions about the comfortable victory before Dokic finished the interview with a “weird” request.
“This might be a weird question, last one,” Dokic began.
“You’re winning so easy, you’re barely sweating … I see you’re taking these towels every match, you’ve got at least one more match … so now in front of 15,000 people you need to give me a towel because you’ve got too many.”
Sabalenka was laughing throughout and quickly produced a towel from her bag to give to Dokic.
“From my heart to you,” she said before hugging Dokic.
“That answers everything, that’s why we love you,” Dokic replied.
Sabalenka gives Dokic the towel. Credit: Australian Open
Sabalenka has looked closed to invincible in this tournament, dropping just 16 games and winning every set across her first five matches.
The 25-year-old did drop a service game late in the second set to prove she was human, but still cruised to a 12th-straight victory at Melbourne Park.
“It was a really great match and I played really great tennis and I hope I can just keep playing that way or even better,” Sabalenka said.
“I’ve been working so hard last year and this pre-season, I think it’s all about hard work on the practice court so you’re ready for the matches.”
Krejcikova entered the match having been on court for four hours longer than Sabalenka.
The Belarusian is aiming to become the first woman since countrywoman Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and 2013 to win two-straight Australian Open titles.
Sabalenka will meet US Open champion Coco Gauff in a mouth-watering semi-final after the American fourth seed survived a three-hour epic against Ukraine’s Martya Kostyuk.
Whoever wins that encounter will start as a heavy favourite in the final, with a rank outsider certain to be in the decider.
The quarter finals on Wednesday involve unseeded Czech teenager Linda Noskova and Ukraine qualifier Dayana Yastremska, and Russian Anna Kalinskaya against China’s Qinwen Zheng.
Sabalenka was unable to add to her sole grand slam title after last year’s Australian Open despite reaching at least the semi-finals in the the three other majors.
– With AAP