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SABALENKA STORMS INTO MAIDEN MAJOR FINAL

[5] Aryna Sabalenka def Magda Linette (POL) 7-6(1), 6-2

 

Aryna Sabalenka has booked her place in a Grand Slam singles final for the first time, after a sixth consecutive straights win at Melbourne Park.

 

On a clear, but cool evening on Rod Laver Arena, the 24-year-old proved too strong for Poland’s Magda Linette – ultimately hitting her way through the world number 45 with thirty-three winners.

 

Sabalenka continued her strong history over Linette – having dropped just seven games in their previous two encounters – to record a third career win over the 30-year-old.

 

I’m super happy that I was able to get this win,” Sabalenka told Casey Dellacqua post-match.

 

She’s an unbelievable player and she played really great tennis.”

 

Contesting her first Grand Slam semi-final, Linette jumped away to a brilliant start, breaking the Belarusian’s serve and consolidating her own to take a 2-0 first-set lead.

 

The Pole was clinical early on, diminishing Sabalenka’sfirepower – particularly with her slice – and causing a series of unforced errors off the fifth seed’s racquet.

 

But it didn’t take long for the Sabalenka winners to start pouringin, hitting three in her second service game – marked by a stunning down-the-line forehand at 30-30 and an emphatic shriek, to kickstart her semi-final.

 

After Sabalenka broke back at 2-1, the pair traded service holds through to an opening set tiebreak – where the fifth seed upped her level to take a stranglehold of the match.

 

The 24-year-old played a near-flawless tiebreak – winning the first six points with a series of winners and unreturned serves – to take the first set, and with it, a big piece of Linette’s confidence.

 

In the tiebreak, I kind of found my rhythm,” Sabalenka said.

 

I started trusting myself and going for my shots.”

 

Sabalenka carried her momentum from the breaker into the second set, where she began to completely overpower Linette – as has been the case with her opponents all week.

 

After three match points went begging at 5-1, the Belarusian changed ends, reset, and served her way into a major final for the first time.

 

Sabalenka will now face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakinain Saturday night’s final, with the pair set to meet for the fourth time in their respective careers.

 

The maiden Grand Slam finalist leads the head-to-head record 3-0, however all three encounters have needed deciding sets to determine a winner.

 

She’s an amazing player and she’s playing great tennis; super aggressive,” Sabalenka said on-court.

 

She’s already won a grand slam, so she has the experience of playing in a final.”

 

“It’s going to be a great battle. I’m really looking forward to [it].”

 

 

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