Aryna Sabalenka moved closer to defending her Australian Open title with a thrilling victory over American fourth seed Coco Gauff, winning 7-6(2), 6-4 on Thursday. The two reigning hardcourt Grand Slam champions made contrasting starts to the match as Belarusian Sabalenka fired an ace and revved up her forehand to hold before pouncing on two double faults by Gauff to break. Gauff, who won the Auckland title last week, held her own on serve in the following game and took the set to a tie-break.
However, in the first tie-break of the match, the world No 2 pulled away to win it 6-3. She then closed out the match in one hour 42 minutes. Sabalenka hit 20 winners and won seven of 10 net points against Gauff. The victory meant Sabalenka, who joined Chris Evert and Martina Hingis as the only women to reach her first eight Grand Slam quarterfinal matches without dropping a set, had won four of five matches at Melbourne Park.
Sabalenka will play Zheng Qinwen or qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the finals after both win their semi-finals on Thursday. The 25-year-old will bid to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2016 and 2017 to win successive Australian Open titles.
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In the other semi-final, Qinwen will face qualifier Yastremska in a rematch of their US Open final victory for a place in her second Australian Open final. Both players have won one career Grand Slam to date.
Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka moved closer to retaining her Australian Open crown by beating American third seed Coco Gauff in a thrilling semi-final on Rod Laver Arena. The 25-year-old was the only player to score 20 wins this fortnight and has not dropped a set on her way to the final.
In Sunday’s final, the runner-up will play either qualifier Zheng Qinwen or Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska. Yastremska evoked memories of Emma Raducanu’s sensational US Open victory when she beat qualifier Elena Vesnina in straight sets to make her first major semi-final appearance.
Gauff, who beat Marta Kostyuk in three sets to advance, is looking to add to her grand slam success after winning her maiden titles at the US Open and Auckland this year. The 19-year-old said she hoped to “get the bad match out of the way” after her long encounter with Sabalenka.
The pair met in the final of their maiden Grand Slams last season in a three-hour marathon that featured two tie-breaks. The Americans won the final in New York before losing to the Belarusians in Melbourne.