Aryna Sabalenka smashes racket in second match since ex-boyfriend’s tragic death

Miami Open Presented by Itau 2024 - Day 8
Aryna Sabalenka’s emotions spilled over at the Miami Open (Picture: Getty)

An emotional Aryna Sabalenka smashed her racket on the court several times in her third-round Miami Open defeat to Anhelina Kalinina on Sunday.

The Belarusian world No.2 tennis star was playing just her second match since the tragic death of her ex-boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov at the age of 42 this week.

Koltsov, a former ice hockey star who played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and represented Belarus, died by ‘apparent suicide’ in Florida on Monday.

He was in the United States at the same time as Sabalenka – who had been his girlfriend of three years – as he fell from the 23rd floor of a hotel balcony.

Koltsov ‘was likely very drunk’ when he fatally dropped to his death, his ex-wife said, while Sabalenka decided to play the Miami Open despite the incident.

Sabalenka was seen working on her serve 24 hours after Koltsov’s passing and confirmed ahead of her opening match against Paula Badosa that she had actually split up with him before the events unfolded.

The 25-year-old, wearing all black and not taking part in media duties, beat her best friend Badosa 6-4 6-3 but then lost to 32th-seed Kalinina on Sunday.

Miami Open Presented by Itau 2024 - Day 8
Aryna Sabalenka lost her cool in defeat to Anhelina Kalinina (Picture: Getty)

Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January, headed into her second match as the favourite but Kalinina shocked her to win 6-4 1-6 6-1.

Her emotions spilled over and she reacted angrily to the defeat, smashing her racket into the floor of the court.

Sabalenka’s outburst was understandable given an emotional week in which she admitted that she was ‘heartbroken’ at Koltsov’s death.

Elsewhere at the Miami Open, British No.1 Katie Boulter reached the fourth roundfor the first time in her career with an impressive 6-2 6-3 win over Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The 27-year-old, seeded 24th at the prestigious event in Florida, next faces veteran Victoria Azarenka in the last 16 as she looks to continue her stellar run.

Japanese star Naomi Osaka, meanwhile, continued her resurgence with a 6-2 7-6 win over Elina Svitolina and Ons Jabeur was stunned by Russaia’s Elina Avanesyan.

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