Aryna Sabalenka made it into the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final for the third straight year with a clinical 6-1, 6-2 victory over Anastasia Potapova in Saturday’s first semifinal.
The No.2 seed Sabalenka needed only 58 minutes to dismiss Potapova in their first career meeting, saving all three break points she faced on the indoor clay of Stuttgart.
"I think I was really focused, and I think from the very first point I was playing really aggressive," Sabalenka said after the match. "I didn't give [Potapova] much time. I think that's why the match finished like that quick. But anyway, she's a great player, and I think in the future she's going to be a top player."
Sabalenka will face World No.1 Iga Swiatek on Sunday in a marquee rematch of last year's final. The No.3 seed Ons Jabeur retired from the day's second semifinal while trailing Swiatek 3-0 in the first set due to a left calf injury.
One more chance: World No.2 Sabalenka is aiming to make it third time lucky after back-to-back runner-up finishes in Stuttgart. In the past two years, Sabalenka lost in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final to the World No.1 -- Ashleigh Barty in 2021 and Swiatek in 2022.
A first Stuttgart title would only enhance Sabalenka’s breakthrough start to the season, which included her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier in the year.
Sabalenka is now the first player to reach four finals in 2023. She also won the Adelaide International 1 title and finishing as runner-up to Elena Rybakina in Indian Wells.
Saturday’s victory marks Sabalenka’s 23rd match-win this season, more than any other player on tour. Sabalenka edges ahead of Rybakina and Jessica Pegula, who both have won 22 matches.
Match moments: Despite the lopsided score line, the first set featured numerous tight games. However, Sabalenka crushed booming service returns to break Potapova twice in a row while holding onto her own service, building a 4-0 lead.
Potapova finally got on the board in the sixth game of the set and she held a break point at 5-1 as well, but Sabalenka erased that with a winning overhead en route to the one-set lead. Sabalenka had 15 winners to Potapova's six in the first set.
World No.24 Potapova was seeking her third straight Top 10 win, having upset No.6 Coco Gauff and No.5 Caroline Garcia in her previous two matches to reach her first semifinal at a WTA 500-level event.
But Sabalenka refused to join that list, winning the first eight points of the second set to extend her momentum. Serving for the match at 5-2, Sabalenka fell behind 0-30, but four huge serves in a row righted the ship and the No.2 seed booked her spot in the final again.