Australian Open: Sabalenka feels 'different' after three previous grand slam semi-final losses

By Sports Desk January 25, 2023

Aryna Sabalenka has lost all three of her previous grand slam semi-finals but says this year's Australian Open feels different after powering her way into the last four on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old fifth seed triumphed 6-3 6-2 over Donna Vekic to secure a berth in the semi-finals where she will face unseeded Pole Magda Linette.

Sabalenka won the Adelaide International title prior to the Melbourne Open, meaning she has won her past nine matches without dropping a set.

Wednesday's win improved Sabalenka's grand slam quarter-final record to 4-0, but her major semi-final record is a different story, currently 0-3, despite winning the first set in all three.

Sabalenka made the US Open semi-final last year where she lost to top seed and eventual winner Iga Swiakek. The Belarussian also made the semis at Flushing Meadows in 2021, going down to unseeded Canadian Leylah Fernandez, while she lost her 2021 Wimbledon semi-final to eighth seed Karolina Pliskova.

"I feel a little bit different," Sabalenka told reporters. "I think that I lost those three semi-finals just because I wasn't really calm on court.

"I was overdoing things. I really wanted to get this slam. I was rushing a lot. I was nervous a lot. Screaming, doing all this stuff.

"Right now, I'm a little bit more calm on court. I think I really believe that this is the only thing that was missing in my game. If I can keep that focus and that calm on court, I can get through it.

"I just feel like I have more believe in myself. I feel like this is the huge difference."

The powerful Sabalenka utilized her forehand brilliantly against Vekic with 38 winners, while she kept her cool, saving 12 of 14 break points.

When asked how she is staying focused, she added: "I'm just trying to look at the situation from the top, to see, for example I'm up with a break, and even if she's going to break me back, nothing bad going to happen. You are just going to keep serving well.

"I'm just trying to look at the situation from the top, try to relax myself, try to think what I have to do."

Sabalenka's run to the Australian Open last four sets up the opportunity of a first-ever all-Belarussian grand slam final, with compatriot Victoria Azarenka into the other semi-final, where she will face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

"I really want it to happen," she said. "I know that Vika will do everything she can to make it happen. I will do everything I can to make it happen.

"That's going to be history. That's going to be just unbelievable and tough to realise that this is actually happening.

"It's just going to be huge. This is going to help other kids to understand that they can do well in this sport, they can be top players."

Related items

  • Jack Draper retires ill in deciding set of Mexican Open semi-final Jack Draper retires ill in deciding set of Mexican Open semi-final

    Jack Draper retired in the third set of his semi-final against Australian Alex de Minaur at the Mexican Open in Acapulco.

    Draper left the court 4-0 down in the final set because of an undisclosed illness after he staged a strong comeback from a set down to the defending champion.

    The Australian started strongly, taking the first 6-3 and capitalising on four of six break points – the first set Draper had dropped in the tournament.

    But the British number three staged a valiant comeback, winning the second set 6-2 with some strong returns.

    His illness became an issue towards the end of the second set with the 22-year-old receiving treatment from the physiotherapist and tournament doctor.

    Things only got worse in the third set as the Australian won four consecutive games before Draper retired from the match.

    De Minaur said after the match that he wishes Draper a “speedy recovery”.

    “He’s a hell of a player, a hell of a talent and I hope it’s nothing too serious,” he said.

  • Katie Boulter into biggest semi-final of career to set up highest ranking Katie Boulter into biggest semi-final of career to set up highest ranking

    Katie Boulter is through to a first WTA 500 semi-final after beating Croatia’s Donna Vekic in straight sets at the San Diego Open.

    The British number one followed up her win over second seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last 16 by knocking out the 2022 runner-up 6-4 6-3.

    From trailing 3-1 in the first set, Boulter won nine of the next 10 games in another confident display.

    She will climb to a career-high ranking, on the brink of the top 40, following her latest victory.

    Vecic, seeded seventh, broke first in the opening set but then allowed Boulter to hit straight back after an error-strewn service game.

    Boulter then saved three break points to hold and grabbed a crucial second break for 5-4 before serving out the set.

    Two stunning Boulter backhands brought the 27-year-old from Leicester another break at the start of the second, and a subsequent break to love put her in complete control.

    Boulter let Vecic claw one break back as she served for the set, but she converted her first match point with a clubbing forehand after the longest rally of the match, wrapping up the victory in an hour and 36 minutes.

    “It was an absolute battle in tricky conditions, it was not easy to get any rhythm as we are both big hitters,” Boulter said in her on-court interview.

    “I got over the line in the first set and played some good stuff in the second.”

  • Andrey Rublev defaulted for allegedly abusing line judge at Dubai Open Andrey Rublev defaulted for allegedly abusing line judge at Dubai Open

    World number five Andrey Rublev was sensationally defaulted after being accused of swearing at a line judge in the deciding set of his semi-final at the Dubai Open.

    The combustible Russian was trailing 6-5 in the third against Alexander Bublik when he appeared to say something to the line judge.

    ATP supervisor Roland Herfel came down to the court accompanied by a Russian speaker, who claimed Rublev had sworn in his native language.

    Rublev protested, insisting he was speaking in English, while Bublik also backed his opponent.

    “I didn’t say ‘f******’. I swear to God. This is huge. I swear to God,” said Rublev.

    The offence would usually merit a warning in the first instance, but the 26-year-old was defaulted by umpire Miriam Bley amid jeers from the crowd in Dubai.

    It was a controversial end to a tight match, with Kazakhstan’s Bublik progressing to the final 6-7 (4) 7-6 (5) 6-5.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.