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SABALENKA SURGES INTO SEMIS




[5] Aryna Sabalenka def Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-3, 6-2


Aryna Sabalenka has progressed into her fourth major singles semi-final and first at the Australian Open, after a straight sets victory over Donna Vekic.


The fifth seed is still yet to drop a set in 2023 – after four wins in Adelaide and now five at Melbourne Park – and is in lead contention to take out the women’s title.


“It is really special to be in the semi-finals,” Sabalenka told Jelana Dokic post-match.


“It was [a] tough match. I’m super happy with the win.”


Sabalenka raced to a 3-1 lead in the opening stanza before a fightback from Vekic saw the first set back on serve.


However, a mix of loose service games from the world number 64 – with nine double faults in her first four service games – and some clean ball-striking from Sabalenka helped her to take the opener 6-3.


The 2021 Australian Open doubles champion continued her dominance in the second set – hitting eighteen winners to the Croatian’s ten – on her way to a straight sets victory.


Sabalenka had historically struggled to overcome Vekic, holding a 1-5 head-to-head in their previous meetings but was not aware of the record prior to their quarterfinal.


“It’s really good that I didn’t know [about the 1-5 win/loss],” she said.


“I remember the last two matches that she won, [but] it’s good that I didn’t think about [being] 1-5 down.”


“She’s a great player. It’s always tough to play against her,” Sabalenka said.


“I kind of expect this game from her, [so] I was able to stay in [it] no matter what. That was the key.”


It was the 24-year-old’s fourth win this fortnight on Rod Laver Arena, and she is starting to feel at home on Melbourne’s premier court.


“I would say, yes. I definitely love this place,” Sabalenka replied when asked if it was her new favourite court.


“It was so great to play here today. The atmosphere was unbelievable. Thank you, guys, so much.”


Sabalenka will have just over twenty-four hours to prepare for her semi-final tomorrow night and will be opting for her personal choice of recovery ahead of the encounter.


“To be honest, I don’t like ice baths, [but] I’ll definitely do some treatment,” Sabalenka said.


She will face Poland’s Magda Linette, who overcame Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5 earlier today, and both will be looking to reach their maiden Grand Slam final.


It will be the pair’s second career meeting, with Sabalenka having won their first encounter 6-1, 6-3 at the Tianjin Open in 2018.


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