CINCINNATI, Ohio -- World No. Aryna Sabalenka returned to the semifinals at the Western & Southern Open after defeating No.5 Ons Jabeur 7-5, 6-3 in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The victory sets up a rematch of the dramatic Roland Garros semifinal that saw Karolina Muchova save match point to defeat Sabalenka in three sets.
Muchova advanced to her first WTA 1000 semifinal after Marie Bouzkova retired due to a right thigh injury. Muchova led 3-0 in the first set before Bouzkova could no longer continue.
With World No.1 Iga Swiatek advancing to her first Cincinnati semifinal, this is just the fourth time the top two seeds have reached the final four in Cincinnati. It also happened in 2004, 2013 and 2017. Swiatek will face No.7 Coco Gauff in the other semifinal.
In their sixth career meeting, Sabalenka held off a spirited comeback by Jabeur to take the opening set. Sabalenka served for the first set at 5-3 before Jabeur rallied to level the set. But a big backhand return winner from Sabalenka broke the Tunisian for a third time to seal the set.
Jabeur broke early in the second set and led by a break at 3-1 before calling for the trainer. Jabeur took a medical timeout to address an issue in her right foot and lower right leg. On the restart, she struck two double-faults to give back her break advantage. Sabalenka seized the match from there, winning the next four games to book a spot in her second Cincinnati semifinal.
"Super happy to get this win back," Sabalenka said. At the same time I'm a little bit sad for Ons. I really hope she'll recover fast and she'll be ready for the US Open."
Sabalenka finished with 31 winners to 23 unforced errors. Jabeur struck 20 winner to 19 unforced errors.
After avenging her Wimbledon semifinal loss to Jabeur, Sabalenka now hopes to get one back against Muchova.
"I actually think this surface is really good for her style of game," Sabalenka said. "But probably I felt more confidence on the hard court against her. I kind of know her a little bit better.
"I hope I'm going to take this win back. At least I'll do everything I can, everything that is in my hands to get this win back."
Ranked No.17 at the start of the week, Muchova is into her seventh semifinal overall. She holds a 3-3 record in tour-level semifinals. Her last semifinal appearance came in May at the French Open, where she saved match point to defeat No.2 Aryna Sabalenka en route to her first major final.
"Everything has gone fast after Montreal," Muchova said. "I had tough matches here, three setters. The key this week has been regeneration, and refocusing, because I have to get ready for another match.
"I'm really happy about [my consistency] because I had great results in the past and then I could never continue. So I'm happy the way things are working. I feel great with my game. Some matches are worse than others but I keep fighting. I'm really happy that we are building with my team."