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Sabalenka produces statement win over Gauff to set up Sakkari semi-final at Indian Wells

By Sports Desk March 15, 2023

Australian champion Aryna Sabalenka made light work of sixth seed Coco Gauff in a dominant straight-sets win to clinch her spot in the Indian Wells Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

Sabalenka improved her 2023 season record to 16-1 with a 6-4 6-0 win over the 19-year-old American in only 65 minutes.

The Belarusian will face seventh seed Maria Sakkari in the semi-finals after the Greek edged out 15th seed Petra Kvitova in three sets in the evening quarter-final.

Sabalenka will be tough to beat, however, maintaining her strong season form against Gauff who had little answers despite boasting a 3-1 head-to-head record coming into the clash.

The second seed crushed 18 winners compared to Gauff's 12, while she committed 14 fewer unforced errors across the match.

Sabalenka opened up a 2-0 lead in the first set and maintained that buffer to take the opening frame, before a 25-minute second-set bagel underlined her dominance.

"I feel a little bit different on the court this year," Sabalenka said after the match. "I feel like I'm a little bit different player. I wasn't really focusing on the last matches against her. I was focused on myself."

Sakkari came from behind to defeat two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova 4-6 7-5 6-1 in two hours and 17 minutes.

The Greek, who finished as last year's Indian Wells Open runner-up, was broken twice in the first set and dropped serve again in the opening game of the second frame, before finding a way to flip the match on its head.

Sakkari broke back for 3-3 in the second set, winning 12 of the final 15 games for victory in an impressive turnaround. All four of Sakkari's matches in Indian Wells this fortnight have gone to three sets.

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