Aryna Sabalenka soared into the first Australian Open semifinal of her career with a 6-3, 6-2 win Wednesday against Donna Vekic.
It will be Sabalenka's fourth career Grand Slam semifinal overall, and she'll seek to reach her first major singles final when she takes on unseeded Magda Linette, who upset No.30 seed Karolina Pliskova earlier in the day.
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Here are three takeaway's from Sabalenka's victory:
🎾 9-0 in matches— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2023
🎾 18-0 in sets@SabalenkaA is on a mission in 2023!@wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis • #AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/MloYGNAbIC
Sabalenka's streak continues: The Adelaide International 1 champion extended her unbeaten run to nine matches to start the season. Her 1-hour, 49-minute win against Vekic was Sabalenka's second victory in seven career head-to-head meetings.
Not only has Sabalenka yet to lose a set at this Australian Open, she has yet to play a three-setter in 2023. She's dropped only 26 games in 10 sets in Melbourne.
Serve was the story: Vekic was undone in part by 13 double faults, which afforded Sabalenka opportunities 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.
"My serve is one of my biggest weapons, so if that's not working, it's very tough out there, especially against her, who is not giving you any easy points, easy shots," Vekic said. "I think that's why maybe also I felt a little bit more pressure, because I knew if I didn't have a great serve, that she's going to crush it.
"That could be one of the reasons, as well. I mean, with her, you cannot really count on building the point, staying in the rallies, working your way up. If you don't have good first shot, you're in trouble."
Absolutely no holding back 🙅🏻♀️@SabalenkaA • @wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis • #AusOpen • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/y6mGEq9yah— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2023
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.
"There was a lot of tough moments," Sabalenka said. "I just kept saying, like, just stay in the game, fight for it, don't give her easy points, make her work for it.
"Basically that's it. That's how I was able to get out from the that situations."
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 Linette, 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.
"She's a great player. She's playing great tennis these weeks in Australia. Moving well, serving well, handling emotions well," Sabalenka said.
"I think it's going to be a great test for me, if I can actually keep myself calm in this, I would say, key moments.
"I've been - how to say - in the semifinals before, and I get there with all that up and downs. All those up and downs didn't help me at all in the semifinals. So right now it's going to be a really test for me, if I can keep myself calm like I was keeping myself calm during these past matches."