Aryna Sabalenka is hoping she can move to another level in a "new beginning" this year after beating Belinda Bencic to reach a first Australian Open quarter-final.

The fifth seed from Belarus saw off Bencic 7-5 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena on Monday and will face Donna Vekic in the last eight.

Sabalenka has not dropped a set in her four matches in the first grand slam of the year at Melbourne Park and has been installed as the favourite to take the title after Iga Swiatek's exit.

The 24-year-old played in a second successive US Open semi-final last year but has never made it is far as a championship match at a major.

Sabalenka won the Adelaide International 1 before heading to Melbourne and is optimistic she can kick on in 2023.

She said: "I want to believe that the way I'm working right now, the way I'm on the court right now, this is the new beginning, and this is the next step. So I really want to believe that it's going to really help me."

Sabalenka has endured struggles with her serve, but appears to have put that behind her after addressing the issue.

She added: "I worked a lot on my serve. I was keep trying, keep believing, keep changing. Then I worked on my, like, biomechanics.

"Basically that's it. But I was doing everything. I thought it's mentally, but it wasn't. We changed a lot of things on how we work on my serve. We tried to work more, less. We tried so many different things.

"In the end of the season when I start working with the biomechanics guy, he helped me a lot. I think from there, everything started to kind of get on that level."

Croatian Vekic ended 17-year-old Czech Linda Fruhvirtova's impressive run with a 6-2 1-6 6-3 victory.

Aryna Sabalenka could never previously have been accused of being "boring", but she now wears that tag as a badge of honour and believes it can lead to Australian Open glory.

The world number five from Belarus has found a way to control her previously volatile emotions, cured her torrid serving yips through persistent hard work, and an elusive grand slam might soon be coming her way.

Sabalenka won 6-2 6-3 against Belgian Elise Mertens in an hour and 14 minutes on Margaret Court Arena on Saturday, delivering another dominant performance that means she has yet to drop a set this year.

That includes a fuss-free run to the Adelaide International 1 title and a brisk dash through the opening three rounds at Melbourne Park. She is 14-0 for sets in 2023, and this new version of Sabalenka faces Olympic champion Belinda Bencic next for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sabalenka's talent has never been in doubt, but her temperament has been a sticking point.

Asked what had been key to her sauntering untroubled through the opening rounds this year, Sabalenka said: "I think my calmness on the court. That's pretty much it. I was just ready for everything. Whatever's going to happen on court, I'm ready for that. I think this is the key.

"I wish I would have been like that a few years ago. Finally, I understand what everyone was looking for and asking for.

"I need to be a little bit boring on court. It's still about a lot of positive emotions for me, but I'm trying to stay away from negative and just fight for every point."

She is fighting the inclination to throw her racket and scream when moments go against her, and says staving off the dark thoughts is becoming "a little bit more natural right now".

Last year, Sabalenka served at least 10 double faults in each of her three opening matches in Melbourne, coming from a set down to win each time, before bowing out in round four after a wild tussle with Kaia Kanepi.

Iga Swiatek remains the title favourite with the bookmakers this year, but Sabalenka is second on that list.

"About being the favourite, I don't know," the 24-year-old said. "I mean, it's really good that I'm there, but I better focus on myself, on my game, make sure that my dream will happen."

She is allowing herself to dream, but not to become carried away, knowing this has been her undoing in the past.

"I just have to stay the same, because before, in the second week, I remember I was getting nervous, I was overthinking, over-dreaming," Sabalenka said. "I really believed and believe that the only one thing that was missing was my emotions, that I was too emotional on court.

"I really believe if I'm going to keep the same mindset, the same calm on court, I really believe that I can get it."

Bencic is also enjoying a terrific start to the year, winning the Adelaide International 2 tournament and easing through her opening Australian Open tests.

The Swiss has a new coach in Dmitry Tursunov, and the link-up with the Russian, who briefly worked with Emma Raducanu last season, is bearing fruit.

Sabalenka knows the threat that lies ahead, saying of Bencic: "She's a great fighter, a great player, moving well, hitting the ball quite clean.

"I feel like I have to stay really aggressive in the first few shots, and then the slower ball or shorter ball will come.

"I think it's all about fast feet on the first few shots. I have to be like really a tiger, stay low and ready for that."

Belinda Bencic eased to a 6-0 6-2 final victory over Daria Kasatkina to claim the Adelaide International 2 crown on Saturday.

Both Bencic and Kasatkina did not have to play a semi-final after their respective opponents, Veronika Kudermetova and Paula Badosa, both pulled out with injuries.

Bencic romped to victory in the final though, dropping just two games against her Russian opponent to lift her first title in Australia.

The match lasted just 67 minutes, as the 2021 runner-up converted five of her seven break point opportunities while not facing a single break point herself.

Bencic rattled off eight games in a row to start the final, and though Kasatkina did save some face with a couple of holds late on, the world number 13 finished the job to win in straight sets ahead of the start of the Australian Open next week.

"I'm happy I could show my work here on the court," Bencic told reporters at a post-match news conference. "I thought I played some great matches from the start of the tournament and also against different kind of opponents so I really could test myself out there in every way and just go confidently into the Australian Open."

At the Hobart International, Lauren Davis ended a six-year title drought with a 7-6 (7-0) 6-2 triumph over Elisabetta Cocciaretto in an all-unseeded final.

In the opening set, every game went to serve until the tie-break, when Davis found three crucial breaks to take the advantage heading into the second stanza.

But the second set was not the same tight affair as Cocciaretto, playing in her first Tour-level singles final, collapsed to a 5-0 deficit to leave her staring down the barrel of defeat.

Davis, who herself was playing in a first Tour-level final since winning the trophy in Auckland in 2017, overcame losing the next two games to take the title having not lost a set at the tournament.

Davis was delighted after the match, saying: "I have a lot of emotions going through my body right now. I'm just really happy, really excited. I really had to play my best in order to win today."

Belinda Bencic will play Daria Kasatkina in the final of the Adelaide International 2, though neither of them had to play a semi-final.

Bencic was due to go up against Veronika Kudermetova in the second scheduled semi-final on Friday, only for the Russian to withdraw due to a hip injury.

It was a similar story for Kasatkina, who received a walkover after Paula Badosa pulled out of their match, citing a thigh problem.

While Bencic and Kasatkina will now get the chance to claim a trophy early in the season, the focus for Badosa and Kudermetova will be on regaining fitness in time for the Australian Open, which starts next week.

Badosa was confident she can recover for the upcoming major, where she has been drawn against American Caty McNally in the first round.

"I'm really disappointed that I had to withdraw because I was really looking forward to the match," Badosa told reporters.

"When I was playing [against Beatriz Haddad Maia], it was a very tough match, especially physical, so I felt a little bit in my abductor. I felt like I pulled it a little bit.

"I feel a little bit worse, so I have the Australian Open ahead, and I hope I can recover for that."

Badosa needed two hours and 35 minutes to get past the Brazilian on Thursday, having knocked off Anett Kontaveit and Kaia Kanepi in the earlier rounds.

"I played three really good matches," the Spaniard said. "I think that helps me, as well, on my confidence for the tournaments ahead. Now it's something that I cannot control, so it is what it is."

At the Hobart International, Elisabetta Cocciaretto set up a showdown with Lauren Davis.

Sofia Kenin, the 2019 champion, fell 7-5 4-6 6-1 to world number 67 Cocciaretto, who has reached her first Tour-level singles final.

"It’s unbelievable for me to be here in the final of such a great tournament, and I’m really happy about my performance," Cocciaretto said.

"[Kenin is] a very good player, I was a junior when she won the grand slam [2020 Australian Open], so for me it's an honour to play against her."

Davis, meanwhile, saw off Anna Blinkova in straight sets. She has not featured in a Tour-level final since clinching the trophy in Auckland in 2016.

Veronika Kudermetova saved five match points as she beat Danielle Collins to reach the Adelaide International 2 semi-finals before Belinda Bencic knocked Caroline Garcia out.

Sixth seed Kudermetova showed great defiance to defeat American Collins 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 on Thursday.

Kudermetova fended off five match points when serving to stay in the tournament at 6-5 down in the second set and duly forced a tie-break.

Collins, runner-up to Ash Barty in the Australian Open final last year, took a 3-0 lead in the breaker, but back came her Russian opponent to level the match.

The world number nine dominated the deciding set to seal a meeting with Bencic in the last four.

Eighth seed Bencic got the better of WTA Finals champion Garcia 6-2 3-6 6-4.

Garcia broke straight back after going 3-1 down in the final set, but Bencic broke for the fourth time in the match to go through.

Paula Badosa and Daria Kasatkina will contest the other semi-final after beating Beatriz Haddad Maia and Petra Kvitova respectively. 

Elisabetta Cocciaretto saved two match points as she came from a set down to beat Bernarda Pera 5-7 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 in the quarter-finals of the Hobart International. 

The 21-year-old Italian will now face 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, who also stormed back to defeat Anhelina Kalinina 4-6 6-3 6-1.

Lauren Davis and Anna Blinkova will do battle in the other semi-final following wins over Wang Xinyu and Yulia Putintseva respectively. 

Petra Kvitova defeated Elena Rybakina in the pick of the first-round matches at the Adelaide International 2 on Monday.

Two-time Wimbledon winner Kvitova hit 21 winners to 12 unforced errors on her way to a 6-3 7-5 win against reigning SW19 champion Rybakina in a match lasting 87 minutes.

Belinda Bencic, a defeated finalist in this tournament in 2021, also advanced with a 6-3 6-4 win against former world number one Garbine Muguruza to maintain her positive form.

Fellow seeded players Beatriz Haddad Maia and Danielle Collins beat Sorana Cirstea and Karolina Pliskova respectively to book their places in the last 16.

At the Hobart International, favourite Marie Bouzkova saw off Jacqueline Cristian 7-6 (7-2) 6-3, while Lauren Davis defeated Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-2 in an all-American clash.

Rafael Nadal suffered his second defeat in as many matches after going down 3-6 6-1 7-5 against Alex de Minaur at the United Cup.

The 22-time grand slam champion, who was also beaten by Great Britain's Cameron Norrie in his opening match, is still seeking his first victory of the season with the Australian Open just around the corner.

Home favourite De Minaur delighted the Sydney crowd by recovering from a set and break down to claim his maiden win over the world number two.

"I think it's definitely up there [as one of my best wins]," he said. "It's one of those achievements that you have unlocked in your career.

"But also, it's a big win for myself, one that I really needed. I'm going to cherish and use, take all the confidence from this and be able to hopefully take it to have a good [Australian] summer."

Spain and Australia are unable to progress to the City Finals, but Nuria Parrizas Diaz levelled the Group D tie with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Maddison Inglis.

The USA, who required just two points against Germany to advance to the next stage, set up a showdown with Great Britain after Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys enjoyed straight-set successes over Alexander Zverev and Jule Niemeier respectively. 

Italy moved to the brink of joining them in the City Finals after taking a 2-0 lead over Norway. Lorenzo Musetti overcame Viktor Durasovic in straight sets, while Martina Trevisan edged out Malene Helgo in three.

Greece require one win from their final three matches against Belgium to also advance, Stefanos Tsitsipas hit 12 aces on the way to defeating David Goffin 6-3 6-2 to level the Group A showdown at 1-1.

Poland's winner-takes-all Group B clash with Switzerland is also finely poised at 1-1. World number one Iga Swiatek beat Belinda Bencic 6-3 7-6 (7-3), before Marc-Andrea Huesler's 6-3 6-2 victory against Daniel Michalski.

Stefanos Tsitsipas opened his United Cup campaign with a comeback victory over Grigor Dimitrov in Perth.

ATP world number four Tsitsipas is one of the headline names in action at the event, which is acting as a warm-up tournament for the Australian Open.

After going a set down to his Bulgarian opponent in his first game of the inaugural tournament, Tsitsipas hit back with a strong second set before holding his nerve in a tense tie-break in the decider, securing a 4-6 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win.

Tsitsipas's team-mate Despina Papamichail continued Greece's strong start, also coming from a set down to beat Isabella Shinikova 3-6 6-4 6-1.

Great Britain opened with a pair of victories, Cameron Norrie and Katie Swan earning straight sets triumphs over their Australian counterparts in Sydney.

Norrie, who was initially set to play Nick Kyrgios prior to the Wimbledon finalist's withdrawal due to an ankle injury, eased to a 6-3 6-3 victory over Alex De Minaur, while Swan defeated Zoe Hives. 

The United States are also taking a 100 per cent record into day two of the tournament, after Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys overcame Jiri Lehecka and Marie Bouzkova respectively, while France pair Arthur Rinderknech and Alize Cornet got off to winning starts against Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo and Maria Lourdes Carle.

In Brisbane, Swiss hope Belinda Bencic secured a 7-6 (7-0) triumph over Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan and Beatriz Haddad Maia, the Brazilian world number 15, dispatched Italy's Martina Trevisan 6-2 6-0.

It was a great day for the highly ranked Americans at the Guadalajara Open on Wednesday, headlined by world number five Jessica Pegula and her 2-6 6-3 7-6 (10-8) comeback win over Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

Pegula, who is now locked into the top-eight and therefore will qualify for the WTA Finals, struggled to win points on her serve in the opening set, but raised her 57 per cent success rate up to 69 per cent in the second set, and 66 per cent in the decider.

The American had to come from a break down in the second set to keep her tournament alive, and she will now face Canada's Bianca Andreescu in the third round.

Meanwhile, fellow United States star Coco Gauff was too good for Italy's Elisabetta Cocciaretto, winning 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 to book a third-round clash with another Italian, Martina Trevisan, who earned her way there with a 6-0 4-6 6-3 win over Katerina Siniakova.

The other two seeded Americans were also successful, with 13th seed Madison Keys coming from a set down to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6 6-4 6-3, and 14th seed Danielle Collins repelled the challenge of Magdalena Frech 6-3 6-4.

There were positive signs for former world number five Eugenie Bouchard, who ended up losing, but showed she still has her talent by taking a set off world number 23 Jelena Ostapenko in a 7-5 2-6 6-1 result.

Russian pair Anna Kalinskaya and Liudmila Samsonova both emerged in three-set outings, with Kalinskaya outlasting Elise Mertens 6-4 0-6 7-5, while Samsonova upset world number four Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 2-6 6-2.

World number 12 Veronika Kudermetova kept her WTA Finals hopes alive with a 6-4 7-5 win over Donna Vekic, and the Czech Republic's Marie Bouzkova ousted Colombia's Camila Osorio 6-3 6-1.

In the late window, Sloane Stephens eliminated Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic 6-4 6-4, and top overall seed Paula Badosa retired due to injury after losing the first set 6-2 against Victoria Azarenka.

Victoria Azarenka has booked a clash with the top seed of the Guadalajara Open after defeating Elina Avanesyan 6-4 6-2 in Monday's opening round.

In the last event of the season before the WTA Finals, Belarus' Azarenka was too strong with her return game for her Russian opponent, winning 53 per cent (32-of-60) of her return points while capitalising on five-of-seven break point opportunities to earn a shot at world number eight Paula Badosa.

While Azarenka has no chance of qualifying for the WTA Finals – with only the top-eight players in the rankings making it through – Belinda Bencic is one of the players who can sneak in with a great result this week.

Needing to make the semi-finals to have a chance, she got off on the right foot with a 7-5 6-7 (10-12) 6-3 win against Leylah Fernandez in her opening match.

Petra Kvitova can also qualify if she reaches the final, and she started without issue, defeating Bernarda Pera 6-3 7-5.

Ekaterina Alexandrova had an outside chance of claiming a WTA Finals spot if she won this tournament, but she was the victim of the day's biggest upset, falling 6-4 7-6 (10-8) to Camila Osorio.

At 22nd in the world, Liudmila Samsonova is the lowest-ranked player in the field with a mathematical chance at qualification, but she is a step closer after handling Kaia Kanepi 6-1 7-5.

Despite Fernandez's earlier loss, it was a strong day for the Canadians, with Bianca Andreescu proving too good in her 6-2 6-4 victory against Jil Teichmann, and Rebecca Marino also only needed two sets to defeat Ann Li 6-2 7-6 (7-2).

China's Lin Zhu came from a set behind to beat France's Alize Cornet 3-6 6-3 6-4, while Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk had a much quicker result in her 6-1 6-3 triumph over Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

World number 34 Elise Mertens had no problems in one of the biggest mismatches of the day as she defeated world number 185 Asia Muhammad 6-3 6-2, and Sloane Stephens needed only 54 minutes to advance 6-0 6-2 past Linda Fruhvirtova.

In the last match of the night, Mexico's top chance Fernanda Contreras Gomez was eliminated by Alja Tomljanovic 6-2 6-1.

Anett Kontaveit and Maria Sakkari were both knocked out of the Ostrava Open on Thursday as several top seeds tumbled.

Third seed Kontaveit, who won this competition last year, retired when a set down to Tereza Martincova, while world number seven Maria Sakkari was defeated 5-7 7-5 7-5 by 21-year-old American Alycia Parks in a big upset.

Parks lost the opener but found two crucial breaks of serve when 6-5 up in both the second and third sets to eliminate the fourth seed.

The withdrawal of Belinda Bencica – seeded sixth – with a foot injury put Barbora Krejcikova into the quarter-finals, while Ekaterina Alexandrova will also be in the last eight after overcoming fifth seed Daria Kasatkina 6-1 7-6 (7-1).

The tournament favourites were in much better form at the Jasmin Open in Tunisia, as the top two seeds sealed their places in the quarter-finals with straight-sets wins.

Favourite Ons Jabeur cruised to a 6-1 6-3 victory over Evgeniya Rodina, converting four of her seven break points to safely advance to the next round of her home tournament.

And number two seed Veronika Kudermetova eased past Magdalena Frech 6-3 6-4 to set up a quarter-final meeting with Diane Parry.

Belinda Bencic fought back to defeat Eugenie Bouchard in an Ostrava Open first-round contest that took over two and a half hours to settle.

Bouchard took the first set, but Bencic came from behind to advance with a 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 victory on Tuesday.

Eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko, runner-up in the Korea Open, suffered a premature exit as Aliaksandra Sasnovich consigned the former French Open champion to a 6-2 6-2 defeat.

Emma Raducanu also went out in straight sets, with Daria Kasatkina beating the 2021 US Open champion 7-5 6-4.

Catherine McNally blitzed to a 6-1 6-2 victory over Anna Blinkova, while Alycia Parks progressed past Karolina Pliskova to secure the first top-20 win of her career.

Top seed Ons Jabeur swept aside Ann Li with relative ease in a 6-2 6-3 victory at the Jasmin Open to reach the last 16.

Veronika Kudermetova, the second seed, breezed past Varvara Gracheva with a commanding 6-1 6-0 win.

Anastasia Potapova, Petra Martic, Magdalena Frech and Harriet Dart were among the other victors.

Korea Open finalist Jelena Ostapenko was knocked out in the first round of the Tallinn Open after letting a one-set lead slip against Kaia Kanepi.

Ostapenko looked to be cruising after winning the opener, but Kanepi levelled in the second despite the Estonian watching five set points come and go.

Kanepi then romped to victory with a stunning final set to defeat Ostapenko 4-6 6-4 6-0 and keep her hopes of winning her home tournament alive.

In second-round action, Beatriz Haddad Maia is through to the quarter-finals after a 6-1 7-5 success over Linda Noskova.

After Haddad Maia cruised to a one-set lead, the second was a much tighter affair before the Brazilian's class showed as she broke Noskova and then held serve to earn a straight-sets win.

Second seed Belinda Bencic also secured her place in the final eight with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 triumph over Katie Boulter.

At the Parma Ladies Open, top seed Maria Sakkari came from behind to beat Arantxa Rus and seal her quarter-final spot.

Rus saved five out of five break points as she won the opening set 6-3 to give her hope of an upset.

Those hopes were soon dashed though as world number seven Sakkari broke twice to take the second set 6-2, before clinching the match in the third to tee up a clash with Maryna Zanevska.

World number 33 Irina-Camelia Begu made it 12 consecutive wins on clay by overcoming Matilde Paoletti in straight sets and will face fellow Romanian Ana Bogdan in the next round after she beat Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Fourth seed Sloane Stephens saw her tournament come to an end after she was defeated by Danka Kovinic.

Maria Sakkari was made to work as she battled her way back from a set down to reach the last 16 of the Parma Ladies Open.

The number one seed lost the first set to Ukrainian qualifier Kateryna Baindl as a shock appeared to be on the cards.

But the two-time grand slam semi-finalist showed great spirit to eventually win 6-7 (7-2) 6-2 6-3 after two hours and 45 minutes on court.

Fourth seed Sloane Stephens also had to respond to first-set disappointment before coming through 3-6 6-3 6-4 against Magdalena Frech.

The only other seed in action on Monday was Ana Bogdan (sixth), and she had no such issues as she lost just three games in a straightforward win over Brazilian Laura Pigossi that took just 73 minutes.

At the Tallinn Open in Estonia, Belinda Bencic was the highest-ranked player on court on Monday, and the second seed breezed through her first-round clash with local favourite Elena Malygina 6-0 6-2.

Karolina Muchova crushed Jessika Ponchet by the same scoreline, while Barbora Krejcikova, seeded seventh, saw off Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 7-6 (7-3) in straight sets.

However, there was no joy for Madison Keys; the fourth seed going down 6-3 6-2 against Switzerland's Viktorija Golubic.

Marta Kostyuk defeated Bernarda Pera 6-6 4-6 6-3, and Great Britain's Katie Boulter dropped only four games in her 6-3 6-1 demolition of Jaqueline Cristian, setting up a second-round date with Bencic.

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