Sabalenka blasts into Australian Open semis | The Express Tribune



MELBOURNE:

Dominant defending champion Aryna Sabalenka on Tuesday stormed past ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova, setting up an intriguing Australian Open semi-final with Coco Gauff.

The world number two was untouchable in a commanding 6-2, 6-3 victory on Rod Laver Arena, reaching the last four at a Grand Slam for the sixth consecutive time.

She will meet Gauff next in a replay of last year’s US Open final, which the American teenager won in three sets.

After that defeat when favourite at Flushing Meadows, Sabalenka made clear she wants to ensure she is not a one-hit wonder.

And on current form, dropping just 16 games so far at Melbourne Park, Gauff will be the underdog again.

“I played really great tennis, I just hope I can keep playing this way,” said the 25-year-old Sabalenka.

“I mean, it’s all because of the atmosphere. I have the best support here.”

The Belarusian had won all seven of her previous Grand Slam quarter-finals and attributed her consistency to hard work.

“A lot of hard work. I have been working so hard this last year and in pre-season. It’s all about hard work, give it all in the practice court so you are ready for the match,” she said.

She wasted little time laying down the law against Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, working two break points off the Czech’s serve in game three and making no mistake.

Further breaks came in game five and seven, with Sabalenka in full control, serving to love for the set in just 33 minutes.

Krejcikova had reached the last eight after an arduous journey, losing the first set in three of her first four matches, before bouncing back.

But there was no repeat against a player in peak form and whose booming groundstrokes were unstoppable.

The second set followed a similar pattern, with Sabalenka breaking in game three and five.

The Czech player, who has never gone past the last eight in Melbourne staged a mini-recovery but it was too little too late as the second seed galloped home.



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