No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka powered into her sixth consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, and eighth overall, at the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of No.9 seed Barbora Krejcikova in 71 minutes.

The defending champion has dropped just 16 games and zero sets in five matches so far this fortnight, and will next face No.4 seed Coco Gauff in a rematch of last September's US Open final. 

Sabalenka becomes just the third player this century to reach six or more major semifinals in a row, following Jennifer Capriati (six between the Australian Open 2001 and Roland Garros 2002) and Serena Williams (six between Roland Garros 2002 and Wimbledon 2003, and 10 between the US Open 2014 and Australian Open 2017). She has made at least the last four of every major since the US Open 2022, and improves to 8-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinals. 

The former World No.1 also now leads her head-to-head against Krejcikova 6-1, with the only loss coming in the Dubai quarterfinals last year. Sabalenka has won all four of their encounters since that match, and the last seven sets they have played.

Krejcikova's second quarterfinal loss in Melbourne means that the former Roland Garros champion falls to 1-3 in major quarterfinals.

How the match was won: Both sets followed almost identical patterns. Krejcikova held her opening service game, but Sabalenka broke the Czech for 2-1 and then 4-1 before throwing in a loose game of her own to get broken back for 4-2. However, that would be a brief blip rather than a momentum shift as Sabalenka quickly took control again.

Indeed, Sabalenka was dominant in almost every category. She struck 20 winners to Krejcikova's six, and kept her unforced error count down to 13 compared to Krejcikova's 24. Krejcikova's attempts to mix up the play or stay on the front foot tended to lead to misfires; by contrast, Sabalenka even came out on top of the few subtle cat-and-mouse points of the contest, ending a slice rally with a beautiful drop shot in the first set.

Sabalenka even had the upper hand in the forecourt, usually former doubles No.1 Krejcikova's territory. Sabalenka won seven of 10 net points compared to Krejcikova's three out of seven.

Krejcikova was also unable to protect her serve from being punished. She landed just 59% of her first deliveries, while winning only four points in total behind her second serve.

- Insights from
coco gauff
More Head to Head
57.1% Win 4
- Matches Played
42.9% Win 3
aryna sabalenka

Gauff vs. Sabalenka VII

The Australian Open semifinal will mark the first time since 2011 that the previous year's US Open finalists faced each other again in Melbourne. That year, Kim Clijsters defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals to repeat the result of the 2010 US Open title match.

It's been three-and-a-half years since Gauff and Sabalenka first played each other, a 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4 win for Gauff in the second round of Lexington 2020 -- the second tournament of the tour's resumption following that year's Covid-19 shutdown. Gauff leads the overall head-to-head 4-2, but here's how it breaks down further.

  • The US Open marked the first time the pair faced each other in a Grand Slam. Their Australian Open semifinal will be their fifth straight meeting at WTA 1000 level or above.
  • Gauff leads the head-to-head on outdoor hard courts 3-1, winning at Lexington 2020, Toronto 2022 and the US Open 2023, but losing at Indian Wells 2023.
  • Four of their six previous encounters have gone to three sets; Gauff has won three of those matches. Their only straight-sets contests to date were in the third round of Rome 2021 (Gauff won 7-5, 6-3) and in the 2023 Indian Wells quarterfinals (Sabalenka won 6-4, 6-0).
  • Gauff's 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 6-2 quarterfinal defeat of Marta Kostyuk was, at 3 hours and 8 minutes, the second-longest tour-level match of the American's career so far. The longest was her 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(4) win over Sabalenka in the 2022 Toronto third round at 3 hours and 11 minutes. Since 2018, Sabalenka has only played one longer match -- her 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-5 loss to Karolina Muchova in the Roland Garros semifinals last year at 3 hours and 13 minutes.

Sabalenka on the challenge of facing Gauff: "I love it. I love it. After US Open, I really wanted that revenge, and, I mean, that's a great match. It's always great battles against Coco, with really great fights. I'm happy to play her, and I'm super excited to play that semifinal match. 

"She's moving really well. Everything you do on court, it's coming back. So you need to build the point probably couple times in one point to have that -- not like easy shot, but yeah, easy shot, you know, to finish the point. So that's why she's really tough opponent."