Iga Swiatek clinched the Madrid Open title after downing defending champion Aryna Sabalenka in a gruelling final.

In a rematch of last year's final, the top two players in the world did battle in thrilling fashion on Saturday, with Swiatek eventually prevailing 7-5 4-6 7-6 (9-7) after three hours and 14 minutes on court.

It marked Swiatek's first title in Madrid, and the Pole had to do it the hard way, saving three championship points before finally coming out on top in the tie-break, which she sealed with her second championship point when Sabalenka sent a backhand long.

This victory means Swiatek, who has won the French Open on three occasions, has now won every European clay court tournament at WTA 500 level or higher.

It was also Swiatek's seventh victory over Sabalenka, from what was their 10th meeting.

Data Debrief: Clay queen Swiatek rolls on

Swiatek has now won her past seven WTA Tour-level finals, since the defeat to Sabalenka in Madrid last season, while only Elena Rybakina can match her haul of three titles so far in 2024.

This was the longest singles final of the year so far on the WTA Tour, while it was the fourth show-piece match in a WTA 1000 event to be decided by a third set tie-break.

Since the format’s introduction in 2009, only Serena Williams (13) and Victoria Azarenka (10) have more WTA 1000 titles than Swiatek, whose tally of nine equals the efforts of Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova.

Meanwhile, of players to have made at least 10 appearances at clay court tournaments, only Chris Evert, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf have a higher ratio of victories in the Open Era than Swiatek (8/18).

In fact, Swiatek has now claimed a tournament victory in 31 per cent (9/29) of the WTA 1000 main draws she has entered, the highest percentage of any player since the format’s introduction in 2009.

Aryna Sabalenka will face Iga Swiatek in the Madrid Open final for the second year running after beating Elena Rybakina 1-6 7-5 7-6 (7-5) in a semi-final classic on Thursday.

Fourth seed Rybakina made a flying start and took the opener within just 25 minutes, but Sabalenka hit back in a topsy-turvy second set featuring five breaks of serve to force a decider. 

Both players were imperious on their own serve from there, with a tie-break required to split them. Sabalenka's power looked likely to overwhelm Rybakina as she raced into a 5-1 lead, but the former Wimbledon champion clung on by saving two match points on her own serve.

Sabalenka would not be denied third time around, though, a huge serve giving Rybakina no chance as the defending champion teed up a rematch with Swiatek, who she beat in the Spanish capital in last year's showpiece match.

Data Debrief: Sabalenka's unwanted record

Sabalenka has dropped 60 games at this year's Madrid Open. That makes her the player with the most games dropped en route to reaching the final since the tournament's inception in 2009.

The world number two had to dig deep in a match which saw Rybakina win more total points (99 to 95), but she will not mind one bit if she goes on to capture a third Madrid Open title on Saturday.

Elena Rybakina saved two match points as she outlasted Yulia Putintseva to win a dramatic encounter 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 in the Madrid Open quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The world number four was on the brink of defeat at 5-2 down in the third set, with her fellow Kazakhstani Putintseva eyeing a third win in as many head-to-head meetings between the pair.

However, Rybakina came up with one of the shots of the tournament on Putintseva's first match point, capitalising on a drop shot clipping the net cord to produce a nonchalant winner.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion didn't look back from that moment on, producing back-to-back breaks before holding her nerve through a tense final service game, converting her fourth match point to wrap up a gruelling two-hour, 48-minute contest.

Rybakina has now won 16 successive matches on clay, and she will face either Aryna Sabalenka or Mirra Andreeva in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Data Debrief: Rybakina rampant 

Rybakina is the form player on the WTA circuit, with Wednesday's win her 30th of 2024, more than any other player.

She is just the second player to win 30 or more matches in tournaments starting within the first four months of a calendar year, after Iga Swiatek managed 32 victories during the same span in 2022. Swiatek, of course, went on to win the French Open and US Open titles that season.  

Aryna Sabalenka was forced to go the distance again at the Madrid Open as she battled past Robin Montgomery on Sunday.

Sabalenka, the reigning Madrid Open champion, needed three sets to win her second-round tie against Magda Linette on Friday, and the second seed did not have an easy ride against American Montgomery.

However, she eventually got over the line, triumphing 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 to tee up a last-16 meeting with Danielle Collins, who defeated Jaqueline Cristian 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Collins has now reeled off 15 straight wins, having won the Miami Open and Charleston Open in recent weeks, and has progressed to the last 16 in Madrid for the first time in her career.

The American said: "I've been doing so well the last couple of weeks, I think the girls know that when they come out and play me, they've got to go for it. 

"That certainly was taking place the last two matches, some big shots that I've had to counter, and be able to react quickly."

Data Debrief: Sabalenka up there with Serena

Sabalenka has now won 14 of her 17 matches at the Madrid Open, which she won in 2023 and 2021.

Since the inception of the tournament, only Serena Williams (15) has won more of her first 17 matches at the event.

Aryna Sabalenka got her Madrid Open campaign started with a 6-4 3-6 6-3 win over Magda Linette on Friday.

Sabalenka could not quite hit her peak form against Linette, but the world number two nevertheless got the job done after going the distance.

The Belarusian is hunting a record-equalling third title in Madrid, where she is the reigning champion, though she has not won back-to-back matches at a tournament since winning the Australian Open.

"It's not about being confident," Sabalenka said. "It's about how much you're ready to do to get it. It's about the hard work and to be ready, be ready for the big fights. I feel like confidence is not going to help you in those big matches. It's about staying there and fighting for it."

Data Debrief

Sabalenka (70 per cent, 56-24) is now one of five active players since 2020 to hold a winning percentage of 70 per cent or higher at WTA-1000 events.

Iga Swiatek, Simona Halep, Elena Rybakina and Jessica Pegula are the other players to feature on that list.

Paula Badosa admits it will be “uncomfortable” facing best friend Aryna Sabalenka at the Miami Open following the death of the world number two’s boyfriend Konstantin Koltsov.

Sabalenka was pictured on social media practising on Tuesday a day after 42-year-old former ice hockey player Koltsov died in Miami in what police described as an “apparent suicide”.

Her first match is due to be on Thursday against Spaniard Badosa, who defeated Simona Halep on the Romanian’s return from a doping ban.

 

Badosa said of Sabalenka: “Yesterday I spoke with her a lot of time. This morning the same. So I know what she’s going through. I know the entire situation, what is happening.

“That for me is a little bit shocking also to go through that because at the end she’s my best friend and I don’t want her to suffer. It’s a very tough situation.

“At the same point, playing against her, it’s also uncomfortable. But I don’t really want to talk about it because I said I’m not going to talk about it. She’s my best friend and I promised that.

“She’s a strong woman. I think she will get the power from somewhere. I hope it’s going to be a battle, a good match.”

Caroline Wozniacki became emotional talking about the situation during her press conference, the Dane saying: “I can’t even imagine what she’s going through right now.

 “I’m also tearing up. It’s such a terrible situation. It’s so hard. I reached out to her and I told her that I was here if she needed anything.

 “I love Aryna. I think she’s such a great person. She’s always so happy and out there. To see her go through that, it’s heartbreaking.

“Everyone grieves in a different way. She was walking past today. I was giving her her space. I let her know that if she ever needs anything, I’m here, we’re here for her.”

Koltsov, who played in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins, had been a regular presence supporting Sabalenka at tournaments.

The news was announced by Russia ice hockey team Salavat Yulaev Ufa, where Koltsov had been assistant coach.

A statement on the club’s website read: “It is with deep sorrow that we inform you that Salavat Yulaev coach Konstantin Koltsov has passed away. He was a strong and cheerful person, he was loved and respected by players, colleagues, and fans.

“Konstantin Evgenievich forever wrote himself into the history of our club. Koltsov won the Russian Championship and the Gagarin Cup as part of Salavat Yulaev and did a great job on the team’s coaching staff.

“The hockey club Salavat Yulaev expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Konstantin Evgenievich Koltsov.”

It is the second tragedy to hit 25-year-old Sabalenka, whose father Sergey, also a former ice hockey player, died in 2019 at the age of 43.

Jannik Sinner became tennis’ newest grand slam champion at the Australian Open while Aryna Sabalenka successfully defended her title.

The year’s first grand slam brought plenty of long matches and late nights and set the tone for an intriguing season to come.

Here, the PA news agency picks out five things we learned at Melbourne Park.

Changing of the guard

The shifting sands of the sport have moved extremely slowly over the last decade, but there is no doubt change is here – and more is on the way. No one will be writing off Novak Djokovic after one off-colour tournament – he still reached the semi-finals despite being nowhere near his best – but power is moving towards the youngest generation, led by Carlos Alcaraz and now Sinner. Rafael Nadal’s comeback adds extra intrigue heading towards the French Open.

Sabalenka setting the standard

Iga Swiatek remains world number one but not by much and, based on the last five slams, Sabalenka can lay claim to be the best across all surfaces. While Swiatek will be favoured to sweep all before her on clay again, she has work to do to prove she can be a consistent force on hard courts and grass. Sabalenka was awesome in Melbourne, never dropping a set and maintaining a sense of emotional calm that the rest of the locker room would have observed with some trepidation.

New Norrie

Cameron Norrie has been Britain’s Mr Dependable over the last three years, using his physical and mental prowess to battle his way into the top 10. But in Melbourne the 28-year-old showed a whole new attacking side to his game that was a joy to watch. Norrie pulled off the best slam victory of his career over Casper Ruud in the third round and pushed Alexander Zverev all the way to a deciding tie-break before bowing out. If he continues on the same path, he can put himself right in the mix at the biggest tournaments.

Raducanu back on track

Emma Raducanu may only have made the second round of her comeback slam before a tight loss to Wang Yafan but the signs were very encouraging. The 21-year-old played with conviction, looked good physically barring an unfortunate stomach bug and, most encouragingly, appeared happy and excited to be back on tour. It will take Raducanu time to find her level but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic, especially if she sticks with new coach Nick Cavaday for a sustained period.

Late night addiction

Tournament director Craig Tiley’s claim that extending the event to 15 days would somehow fix the problem of matches going late into the night was always farcical, and so it proved. Even only having two matches in the day session did not guarantee the night session began on time, and Daniil Medvedev’s second-round clash with Emil Ruusuvuori did not finish until 3.39am. Until tennis accepts that matches are becoming ever longer and schedules accordingly, nothing will change.

Aryna Sabalenka believes she can bring her Australian Open dominance to other grand slams after lifting a second successive title in Melbourne.

The Belarusian will stay world number two behind Iga Swiatek but that could well change this year if Sabalenka can maintain her impressive consistency at the majors.

In the last five slams, Sabalenka has won two titles, reached another final on hard courts at the US Open and never lost before the semi-finals, while Swiatek’s only run to the last four saw her retain her French Open title.

Getting the better of Swiatek at Roland Garros is likely to be Sabalenka’s biggest challenge but she certainly has the game for grass and, with more composure, could have reached all four finals last year.

“I think last year I proved that I can play on each surface,” said the 25-year-old. “I think those two semi-finals I got super emotional.

“I played against incredible players, and they just played an unbelievable level, but I felt like I got super emotional and I just let those semis go away.

“But I definitely think that if I’m going to keep working like I’m working right now, and if we’re going to keep building what we are building right now, I’m definitely able to do the same on the clay and on the grass.

“So then I’ll just keep working hard and hopefully this year I’ll achieve the same goal.”

It was a statement fortnight from Sabalenka, who did not drop a set through seven matches, with only Coco Gauff in the semi-finals taking more than five games off her.

Speaking on Eurosport, former British number one Laura Robson said: “To deliver that kind of performance across the two weeks, getting better and better, I feel like the rest of the players in the locker room are thinking ‘uh oh’ for the rest of the season.”

There is certainly no sign of Sabalenka being happy with two titles, and the calm manner with which she demolished the rest of the field will give her rivals plenty of pause for thought.

She is now two slam titles behind Swiatek, and was relieved to escape the box of one-slam wonder.

“Actually it’s been in my mind that I didn’t want to be that player who won it and then disappeared,” she said.

“I just wanted to show that I’m able to be consistently there and I’m able to win another one. I really hope that (it will be) more than two, but for me it was really important.”

Sabalenka’s ambitions are shared by her coaches, with fitness trainer Jason Stacy, saying: “We’re the coaches in our different areas but during the match and straight after the match, we’re already talking about the things we need to work on.”

Stacy has been walking around Melbourne Park with Sabalenka’s signature written in pen by the world number two on his bald head.

It is part of the team’s efforts to keep things light and fun off court, although Stacy is ready to draw the line at the next suggestion.

“It might get worse actually,” he said. “Now they’re trying to say I’ve got to get a tattoo of this on my head. I’m like, ‘I don’t know about that’. Every tournament we always find some thing we’re doing and we just kind of go with that.”

Aryna Sabalenka’s ruthless defence of her Australian Open title was powered by a sense of fun and new-found inner calm.

The world number two lifted her first grand slam trophy at Melbourne Park 12 months ago and has been untouchable this fortnight.

She did not drop a set in seven matches and defeated first-time grand slam finalist Zheng Qinwen 6-3 6-2 to become the first player since compatriot Victoria Azarenka 11 years ago to claim back-to-back titles.

“I don’t know how to describe my emotions,” said Sabalenka. “But definitely I’m super, super happy and proud of everything I was able to achieve so far. I’m just happy with the level I played today.”

Zheng, who did not face a top-50 player through the first six rounds, had hoped to emulate the watching Li Na and claim the title for China a decade on.

But the 21-year-old, the 12th first-time slam finalist in the women’s game in the last three years, was up against it from the start and Sabalenka wrapped up victory in only 76 minutes despite a brief disruption from pro-Palestine protesters.

Sabalenka has ridden emotional highs and lows throughout her career, overcoming the yips on her serve two years ago and several bruising semi-final losses before she reached her first final 12 months ago.

She showed tremendous consistency at the slams last year, reaching at least the last four in each one, but there were still crushing defeats in big matches, most painfully in the US Open final against Coco Gauff, after which Sabalenka was seen backstage smashing her rackets.

But in Melbourne this year the 25-year-old has been flawless, with her only testing match coming in the semi-finals against Gauff and resulting in a cathartic victory.

“I think it’s all come with experience,” she said. “There is not going to be big wins without really tough losses. Of course I was very down after those matches. I was crying, I was smashing the racket, as we see. I was really crazy.

“But then, after a day or two, we sit down with the team, thinking, ‘OK, what do we have to do to fix it and to make sure this will never happen again’.”

Sabalenka’s ferocity on court is at odds with her fun-loving persona off it, and her team can often be seen joking around behind the scenes, while a tradition this year was for the Belarusian to write her signature on her fitness trainer Jason Stacy’s bald head.

Helping her find an emotional equilibrium during matches has been a lengthy process, with Stacy saying: “That’s been the plan for years. First making her more aware of what’s happening.

“It’s been a big part. She’s just hiding it really well, and it’s not guaranteed it’s going to be that way every week. But that’s what makes her so dangerous and so powerful as well that part of her. It’s beautiful.”

Sabalenka said with a smile: “It’s actually good that I’m two different people on and off the court, because if I would be the same person that I am on the court off the court, I think I wouldn’t have my team around me and I think I would be alone.

“It takes me so much time to become who I am right now on court, to have this control of myself, and to understand myself better.”

Sabalenka seized control of the match from the start, opening up a 3-0 lead before Zheng gained a foothold courtesy of some impressive serving.

Three double faults in one game was a disastrous start to the second set, though, and even four missed match points could not derail Sabalenka.

Zheng, who will break into the top 10 for the first time on Monday, was disappointed with her performance, saying: “To play against her I think it’s so important to hold your own service game. But I couldn’t do that, especially at the beginning.

“I didn’t perform my best. That’s really a pity for me because I really wanted to show better than that.”

Sabalenka used her acceptance speech to thank her family, and a second slam title fulfilled the dream she shared with her late father Sergey, who died in 2019.

“It was really important,” she said. “Of course he’s my biggest motivation. He’s been everything for me.

“But right now I have my mom, my sister, who is here with me, and I feel like I have to think about them. But I just feel that he’s always with me. I’m very thankful for everything he did for me, and I think if not him I wouldn’t be here.

“Now, having two grand slam titles, it definitely gives me more confidence and belief in myself. I just have this, knowing that all my life it wasn’t a waste of time and I was doing the right thing. I’m where I’m meant to be.”

Aryna Sabalenka defeated Zheng Qinwen to make it back-to-back titles at the Australian Open.

The second seed did not drop a set all fortnight, beating first-time major finalist Zheng 6-3 6-2 to become the first woman since fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in 2013 to successfully defend the trophy.

Britain’s Alfie Hewett was unable to match Sabalenka, losing 6-2 6-4 to Tokito Oda in the men’s wheelchair final.

Picture of the dayTweet of the dayStat of the dayCelebration of the dayDiede rolls onWho’s up next?

The tournament will crown a first time Australian Open champion in the men’s singles on Sunday night.

After stunning Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, 22-year-old fourth seed Jannik Sinner goes into his first grand slam decider as the favourite.

There he will take on third seed Daniil Medvedev, who has survived three five-set matches and will hope to make it third time lucky having finished as runner-up in 2021 and 2022.

Aryna Sabalenka completed a ruthless defence of her Australian Open title by beating first-timer Zheng Qinwen in the final.

The world number two lifted her first grand-slam trophy at Melbourne Park 12 months ago and has been untouchable this fortnight.

She did not drop a set in seven matches and defeated Zheng 6-3 6-2 to become the first player since countrywoman Victoria Azarenka 11 years ago to claim back-to-back titles.

Zheng, who had not had to face a top-50 player through the first six rounds, had hoped to emulate the watching Li Na and claim the title for China a decade on.

But the 21-year-old, the 12th first-time slam finalist in the women’s game in the last three years, was up against it from the start and Sabalenka wrapped up victory in only 76 minutes despite a brief disruption from pro-Palestine protesters.

Zheng was the first player this century to reach a slam final without facing a seeded opponent, and the low rankings of her opponents made this a huge step up.

Early nerves were evident and Sabalenka set straight about seizing on the Zheng serve, breaking for 2-0 and then holding from 0-40 in another statement of intent.

Zheng has struggled with the consistency of her serve this tournament but, when she has made the first delivery, it has been very effective, and two aces helped her get on the board in the fourth game.

The Chinese fans in the crowd were making their presence felt but, while Zheng came up with more big serving to save three set points at 5-2, Sabalenka finished it off decisively on her own delivery.

The Belarusian has ridden emotional highs and lows throughout her career, and her stellar 2023 could have brought her more than one slam title had she not wobbled in defeats by Karolina Muchova, Ons Jabeur and Coco Gauff.

The latter came in the US Open final after Sabalenka had dominated the first set, but here she has been steely on and off court, claiming a cathartic win over Gauff in the semi-finals.

Zheng had won just five games in their only previous meeting in the quarter-finals in New York last summer, and her hopes of doing better were hit by a disastrous start to the second set, serving three double faults in the opening game.

With Zheng trying to hold in the third game, the match was briefly delayed when two spectators held up a Palestinian flag in the stands and shouted until they were hauled away by security to cheers from the remaining fans.

Zheng kept her composure to get on the board but her serve had really dropped off and Sabalenka broke again to lead 4-1.

Zheng managed some brief late resistance, saving four match points, but Sabalenka crunched a forehand winner on her fifth chance before thrusting her arms into the air.

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka will take on first-time grand slam finalist Zheng Qinwen for the Australian Open crown on Saturday.

Sabalenka reversed the result of the US Open final, beating Coco Gauff 7-6 (2) 6-4, while 12th seed Zheng ended the run of qualifier Dayana Yastremska with a 6-4 6-4 victory.

Britain’s Alfie Hewett is one win away from defending his wheelchair title and will again face Japanese teenager Tokito Oda for the trophy.

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The men take centre stage on Friday, with Novak Djokovic putting his 33-match unbeaten run at Melbourne Park on the line in a semi-final clash against fourth seed Jannik Sinner.

In the night session, familiar foes Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev will do battle for a place in the final.

Britain’s Neal Skupski goes for a fourth grand slam title alongside American Desirae Krawczyk in the mixed doubles final, with the pair taking on Hsieh Su-wei and Jan Zielinski.

Aryna Sabalenka has her sights on a second straight Australian Open title after a successful revenge mission against Coco Gauff.

Gauff denied Sabalenka a second grand slam title of the year with victory in the US Open final last summer but her winning run at the majors came to an end with a 7-6 (2) 6-4 defeat under the roof on Rod Laver Arena.

Sabalenka will now be a big favourite to successfully defend her title at Melbourne Park on Saturday when she takes on first-time slam finalist Zheng Qinwen, who defeated Dayana Yastremska 6-4 6-4.

Sabalenka has been in tremendous form this fortnight, not losing more than three games in any set prior to this semi-final meeting.

Gauff’s stellar powers of defence, which turned the tables in New York after she had lost the first set, ensured she got significantly closer than any of Sabalenka’s previous opponents, but it was still not enough.

“It was (an) incredible match,” said the second seed. “She’s a great player, always tough battles against her. I think the key was that I was able to stay focused no matter what. I just kept trying my best, kept fighting for it.

“Of course I’m super happy to be in another final of the grand slam. Hopefully I can do a little bit better than the last time.”

Gauff made a poor start, with five double faults in her first three service games helping Sabalenka open up a 5-2 lead.

But Gauff’s ability to get one more ball back in play better than anyone else in the women’s game had put Sabalenka into meltdown mode in New York and she threatened the same here.

Sabalenka failed to serve out the set at 5-3 and Gauff saved a set point in the next game before making it four games in a row, the crowd gasping as the Belarusian pushed a forehand wide with the whole court at her mercy.

Gauff was two points away from taking the set but Sabalenka refused to let history repeat itself and forced a tie-break, where she put on a display of awesome power that even the athletic American could find no answer to.

The second was nip and tuck but Sabalenka got the crucial break at 4-4 and served out the victory to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2016 and 2017 to reach successive finals here.

Gauff looked emotional leaving the court but she rated her performance as better than in the US Open final, saying: “I felt like it wasn’t a great match for me. Yes, I won. I think I played better tonight.

“I wish I could have made more first serves. I think that was the difference. She had a higher first-serve percentage, and it’s tough to also go for the second when you double-faulted a couple times.

“I put myself in the position to serve out the set. At the end of the day, it came down to a couple of points. Same in the second.”

The 19-year-old immediately found perspective at the end of her final slam as a teenager, saying: “I watched these matches growing up, watching Serena (Williams) and (Maria) Sharapova lose these matches.

“When you’re in it, it feels like the end of the world. But then, when you look at history, they didn’t let one match define their career.

“I’m going to dwell on it tonight but, as (coach) Brad (Gilbert) told me as soon as the match was over, the sun is going to rise tomorrow and you have a new chance to live a good day. Tomorrow I’m going to try to go to the movies or something, be proud of myself.”

Twelfth seed Zheng has kept her head while the more fancied players in the top half of the draw have fallen around her.

Yastremska was trying to emulate Emma Raducanu by reaching a grand slam final as a qualifier but she came out second best in a big-hitting encounter.

Zheng, who has not yet faced a top-50 opponent, is the first Chinese player to make it to a slam decider since Li Na won the title here a decade ago.

The 21-year-old said: “It feels unbelievable. I’m super excited to have a such a great performance today and arrive in the final.”

Aryna Sabalenka took her revenge against Coco Gauff to make it back-to-back Australian Open finals.

Gauff denied Sabalenka a second grand slam title of the year with victory in the US Open final last summer but her winning run at the majors came to an end with a 7-6 (2) 6-4 defeat under the roof on Rod Laver Arena.

Sabalenka will now be a big favourite to win a second-straight title at Melbourne Park on Saturday.

The second seed has been in tremendous form this fortnight, not losing more than three games in any set prior to this semi-final meeting.

Gauff’s stellar powers of defence, which turned the tables in New York after she had lost the first set, ensured she got significantly closer than any of Sabalenka’s previous opponents, but it was still not enough.

Sabalenka came out firing, winning the first seven points and immediately breaking the Gauff serve.

Nerves were on show from both and Gauff hit back to level, but five double faults from the American in her opening three service games proved very costly and Sabalenka opened up a 5-2 lead.

Gauff’s ability to get one more ball back in play than anyone else in the women’s game had put Sabalenka into meltdown mode in New York and she threatened the same here.

Sabalenka failed to serve out the set at 5-3 and Gauff saved a set point in the next game before making it four games in a row, the crowd gasping as the Belarusian pushed a forehand wide with the whole court at her mercy.

Gauff was two points away from taking the set but Sabalenka refused to let history repeat itself, forcing a tie-break, where she put on a display of awesome power that even the athletic American could find no answer to.

Gauff kept her nose in front on serve in the second set and a real test of Sabalenka’s nerve arrived when she trailed 0-30 in the eighth game.

But the 25-year-old responded with four exceptional points, broke Gauff in the next game and served out the victory to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2016 and 2017 to reach successive finals here.

Carlos Alcaraz became the biggest casualty of the men’s draw so far at the Australian Open.

The second seed was beaten in four sets by Alexander Zverev, who will take on Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals following his five-set victory over Hubert Hurkacz.

Qualifier Dayana Yastremska made it through to the last four in the women’s draw, where she will play another first-timer in 12th seed Zheng Qinwen.

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Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt was inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

Fallen seeds

Women: None
Men: Carlos Alcaraz (2), Hubert Hurkacz (9)

Who’s up next?

It is women’s semi-finals day on Thursday, with both matches taking place in the night session.

First up is a rematch of the US Open final, with defending champion Aryna Sabalenka hoping to turn the tables on Coco Gauff, before Yastremska plays Zheng.

British wheelchair stars Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are in singles and doubles semi-final action, while Mingge Xu plays her girls’ singles quarter-final against Iva Ivanova.

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