Belarusian ace Aryna Sabalenka's journey continues to a second Grand Slam win at Australian Open

Thursday, 25 January 2024 at 11:23
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Aryna Sabalenka will face either Qinwen Zheng or Dayana Yastremska in the final of the 2024 Australian Open after taking down Coco Gauff in straight sets in revenge for the US Open final last Autumn and she is now one win away from back-to-back Australian Open titles.
Sabalenka who has been imperious all tournament and has yet to drop a set continued that streak against Gauff who upped her level from her win over Marta Kostyuk, but still had to rely on mistakes in particular in the first set and hanging in there amid the barrage to get any sort of footing in the tie. After being left devastated and in tears after losing in the final of the US Open, Sabalenka is on course for a second Grand Slam win.
The first set was a tale of two halves both won by Sabalenka as the Belarusian ace went 4-2 up and Gauff struggled to cope with the serve of Sabalenka with five double faults in three service games gift wrapping chances to the former World No.1. Gauff found a good backhand but Sabalenka proved too strong and held serve after breaking to make it 5-2. But this is when Gauff's resolve came out and double faults crept into Sabalenka's game as Gauff finally was able to target the serve of Sabalenka effectively.
Gauff broke to make it 5-4 with Sabalenka thumping a forehand into the net and handing the impetus over to the American. She took it and fully turned the tables making it 6-5 with initial points shared but Sabalenka firing a forehand long to give Gauff break point. Sabalenka appeared to make it deuce but she made a huge unforced error handing Gauff the break at 6-5. But the Belarusian started to hit back and crunched a backhand to bring up break point at 6-5 and took it at the first time of asking to force the tiebreak. Her backhand in particular was a supreme weapon as she breezed through the tie-break to take the opening set.
Gauff looked to be hanging on in there in the second with the American snuffing off break point chances and went 4-3 up as Sabalenka looked to head towards the finishing line. But after biding her time, Sabalenka finally got her chance with an unstoppable backhand to earn a break point and despite Gauff hitting back, she also smashed a forehand into the net to give her a second break point and this time she took it and it was the beginning of the end as despite saving match points, Sabalenka finally got there for the win.

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