Sabalenka soars into first Australian Open semifinal

Aryna Sabalenka soared into the first Australian Open semifinal of her career with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Donna Vekic in the fourth and final women’s quarterfinal.

It’s the 24-year-old’s fourth career Grand Slam semifinal, and she’ll seek to reach her first major singles final when she takes of surprise package Magda Linette, who upset No.30 seed Karolina Pliskova earlier in the day on Wednesday to reach her first major semifinal.  

Read on for three takeaway’s from Sabalenka’s victory. 

Sabalenka’s streak continues: The Adelaide International 1 champion extended her unbeaten run to nine matches to start the season. She flipped the script of her career head-to-head against Vekic with the 1 hour, 49-minute victory, beating the Croatian for just the second time in seven career meetings.

Not only is Sabalenka yet to lose a set at this Australian Open, she has yet to play a three-setter in 2023. She’s won all nine matches she’s played in straight sets, and she’s only dropped 26 games in 10 sets so far in Melbourne. 

Serve was the story: Vekic was undone in part by 13 double faults, which afforded Sabalenka ample opportunities in the Croatian’s service games from the first games of the match.

Vekic double-faulted twice in each of her first two service games to set Sabalenka up with a 3-1 lead; she saved break point in her first service game, and after failing to win any of the three break points she had against Sabalenka’s serve at 1-1, she dropped serve at love in the next game. 

The two players faced at least one break point in eight of the nine games of the first set. Vekic broke back in the fifth game, and held serve for 3-3 after saving two break points. But after Sabalenka denied Vekic three chances for a 4-3 lead, she broke for a second time and served out the set after again erasing a break point. 

Sabalenka saved 12 of the 14 break points she faced in the match in all, while converting five of the 13 she had on Vekic’s serve.  

Semifinal outlook: Though she’s 0-3 in her career in Grand Slam semifinals to date, Sabalenka will be a heavy favorite against Linette on form and in recent history. 

She’s 2-0 in her career against the Polish No. 2, including a 6-2, 6-1 victory last summer at the Tokyo Olympics. However, Linette has taken out four seeds in five rounds so far in Melbourne.

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