ROME, Italy—Drop (shot) it like it’s hot!

Aryna Sabalenka had fans on their heels at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Monday night when the No. 2 seed unleashed a sick string of drop shots that helped turn the tide of her fourth-round encounter with Elina Svitolina.

Sabalenka dealt with numerous challenges throughout the three-setter, navigating a niggling lower-back injury and saving three match points late into the evening on Campo Central. But it was her stunning display of variety combined with her signature power that ultimately defeat the two-time champion, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7).

Just don’t get used to it.

Sabalenka caught one of the montages of her drop shots and swiftly weighed in to warn not to expect too many drop shots going forward, especially with fellow big-hitter Jelena Ostapenko looming in the last eight.


“Probably the first and last time in my life,” joked the two-time Australian Open champion, who is looking to make the semifinals at the Foro Italico for the second time in three years.

Sabalenka enjoyed enthusiastic crowd support throughout her comeback win, a fitting soundtrack to what the No. 2 seed calls her “dream” tournament.

“I love Rome. I love the city. I feel, I don't know, so comfortable being here,” she said after defeating Dayana Yastremska earlier in the week. “I enjoy walking around. I enjoy good food, great restaurants. I enjoy the atmosphere on the stadium.

“I don't know. Every time I was losing here, I was so sad. I felt like I lost on the Grand Slam because it was one of the dream tournaments for me to win. It's still one of my dream tournament!”

Might Sabalenka be inspired to pull out more unexpected shots to make her dream come true this week?