Superb Sabalenka Beats Gauff to Reach Australian Open Final

Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the final of the Australian Open, where she will face either Zheng Qinwen or qualifier Dayana Yastremska, after defeating American fourth seed Coco Gauff 7-6(2) 6-4 on Thursday.

In a repeat of their U.S. Open final in September, the two reigning hardcourt Grand Slam winners got off to different beginnings, with Belarusian Sabalenka firing an ace and revving up her forehand to hold before breaking on Gauff’s two double faults.

But what followed was a fierce struggle between two women seeking to move ahead and capture their second Grand Slam trophy, and it was Sabalenka who held fast, becoming the first female since Serena Williams in 2016 and 2017 to make

“I think I was able to focus on myself,” Sabalenka said. “I was thinking she’s going to move really well, put all balls back to me and I had to be ready to play an extra shot.

“I was just ready for anything tonight and I think that was the key. And the support, last time I played here I didn’t have almost any support.”

Gauff hit back right away and the pair swapped breaks again but the 19-year-old New York champion continued to teeter on her serve, allowing Sabalenka to settle her nerves after going 6-5 down in a frantic spell to clinch the first set in a tiebreak.

The pair were locked together until 4-4 in the second set as Sabalenka countered Gauff’s speed with power and the 25-year-old second seed edged ahead with a decisive break when the teenager hit a shot long before sealing victory with two massive serves.

“I really enjoy playing (Coco) she’s an incredible player, win or lose it’s great matches,” said Sabalenka, who fell in three sets to Gauff in the Flushing Meadows final.

“I really hope in the future we’re going to play many more finals. Of course, I hope I win them all,” she added with a laugh.

Sabalenka will set her sights on becoming the first woman to win consecutive Australian Open titles since compatriot Victoria Azarenka in 2012 and 2013.

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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