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

  • Victories from Randy Phillips and Blaise Bicknell put Jamaica 2-0 up against Estonia in Davis Cup tie Victories from Randy Phillips and Blaise Bicknell put Jamaica 2-0 up against Estonia in Davis Cup tie

    Singles victories from Rowland “Randy” Phillips and Blaise Bicknell gave hosts Jamaica a 2-0 lead over Estonia after day one of their group two Davis Cup tie at the Eric Bell National tennis Centre on Saturday.

    The day’s first match of the tie saw Jamaica’s Rowland “Randy” Phillips dominate Estonia’s top ranked player Kristjan Tamm 6-1, 6-1 in just one hour to give the hosts the lead.

    “Very solid and consistent on my part,” said Phillips on his performance after the match.

    Phillips noted that he did not expect such a one-sided match on paper as he is currently ranked 1387 in the ATP rankings while Tamm is much higher at 663.

    “It went a lot better than expected. He’s a tough opponent and maybe he didn’t play his best today but I took advantage of my opportunities,” he said.

    “I think the atmosphere unsettled him. The crowd helped me out a lot and gave me energy,” he added.

    With Jamaica hosting a Davis Cup tie for the first time since 2007, Phillips also spoke about what it meant to play at home.

    “Extremely special. It’s a dream come true. Looking over and seeing my family and friends after points kept me locked in and focused for sure,” Phillips said.

    With Phillips already in the win column, it was time for Blaise Bicknell, Jamaica’s highest ranked player at number 769 in the ATP rankings, to take the court against Kenneth Raisma who is ranked number 1640.

    It was the Estonian who was in the ascendancy early, racing out to a quick 3-0 lead before taking the first set 6-4.

    Bicknell was not done, however, and rallied to take the second set by a similar score before overwhelming his Estonian counterpart in the third, winning 6-0 and securing the lead for the Jamaicans heading into Sunday. The match lasted an hour and 46 minutes.

    Jamaica has a chance to clinch the tie on Sunday when Phillips and Bicknell take on Raisma and Jurgen Zopp in doubles.

    The 34-year-old Zopp, who retired from professional tennis in 2020, achieved a career high ATP ranking of 71 back in 2012 and reached the third round of the French Open in 2018.

    The match gets underway at 1:00pm (2:00pm ECT) and can be viewed on the SportsMax TV YouTube channel.

  • Parks sets up first WTA singles final against Garcia in Lyon Parks sets up first WTA singles final against Garcia in Lyon

    Alycia Parks will compete in her first ever WTA singles final after setting up a showdown against top seed Caroline Garcia at the Lyon Open.

    The American beat Maryna Zanevska 6-3 7-6 (7-4) on Saturday, hitting 35 winners and 13 aces on the way to victory.

    Parks has risen through the ranks in the last year, and explained how a laid back attitude has been the secret to her success in France.

    "I think the key was just staying focused, and taking my time out there," Parks said after her win. "Every time I got ahead of myself, I would kind of lose points, so I would tell myself to slow down.

    "This whole week, I'm kind of relaxed this week and just kept playing my game and doing me."

    The 22-year-old will face Garcia on Sunday after she eased to a 6-2 6-2 win against Camila Osorio in just an hour and 12 minutes.

    At the Thailand Open, Lesia Tsurenko will take on China's Zhu Lin in the final after the Ukrainian came past top seed Bianca Andreescu.

    The Canadian retired hurt in the second set, though Tsurenko already led 7-5 4-0.

    "The way [Andreescu was] playing every point, like she has an idea in every point, so of course she's an amazing player," Tsurenko said. "It was a big challenge for me to handle this, and I was just saying to myself that I have to keep fighting, and this is probably the main key that worked today for me."

    Zhu defeated compatriot Xinyu Wang 6-2 6-4 to advance to Sunday's final.

  • Andreescu backing herself to return to title-winning ways in Thailand Andreescu backing herself to return to title-winning ways in Thailand

    Bianca Andreescu survived a wobble near the finish line to reach the Thailand Open semi-finals and edge a step closer to a long-awaited title.

    The Canadian had a stellar campaign on hard courts in 2019, winning tournaments at Indian Wells and Toronto before topping those with a US Open triumph, denying Serena Williams a 24th singles grand slam in what would be the American's last major final.

    Injuries and inconsistency have blighted progress since then, and there have been no more trophy celebrations, but Andreescu is still only 22 and believes she has a lot of winning still to do.

    She was cruising at 6-0 5-1 against Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in Friday's quarter-final, before her opponent found inspiration and took the second set to a tie-break.

    Andreescu was not to be denied, though, closing out a 6-0 7-6 (7-3) victory, and it will be another player from Ukraine next, with Lesia Tsurenko earning a shot at the top seed after a 6-1 6-1 drubbing of German sixth seed Tatjana Maria.

    Addressing the fightback from Kostyuk, Andreescu said: "I don't think I started playing bad in the second set, I think she just raised her level a little bit. She's always a tough opponent. I definitely wasn't expecting anything easy."

    On her own ambitions, Andreescu said: "I'm hoping to win the tournament, I really believe in myself."

    The other semi-final in Hua Hin will be an all-Chinese battle between Zhu Lin and Wang Xinyu after they saw off Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek and Britain's Heather Watson respectively.

    At the Lyon Open, French top seed and home favourite Caroline Garcia fended off Italian Jasmine Paolini 7-5 7-5 and faces a semi-final against Colombian Camila Osorio, who had a 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory against 18-year-old Czech Linda Noskova.

    American Alycia Parks, who won two WTA 125 tournaments in December while many players were enjoying an off-season, has brought that form to this week's event. The 22-year-old, ranked 79th in the world, scored a 7-5 6-2 win against seventh seed Danka Kovinic and will face Maryna Zanevska next after the Belgian had a 3-6 6-1 6-2 win against Russian fifth seed Anastasia Potapova. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.