Australian Open 2024 results: Aryna Sabalenka defeats Coco Gauff and faces Zheng Qinwen | Top Vip News

  • By Jonathan Jurejko
  • BBC Sport at Melbourne Park

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Aryna Sabalenka demonstrated her power with her thirteenth consecutive victory at the Australian Open

Event: melbourne park Dates: January 14-28

Coverage: Commentary from 08:00 GMT on Tennis Breakfast on Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sounds, with selected live text commentary and match reports on the BBC Sport website and app

Aryna Sabalenka remains on course to defend her Australian Open crown after reaching the Melbourne final avenging her loss to Coco Gauff in last year’s US Open final.

The Belarusian Sabalenka, second seed, won 7-6 (7-2) and 6-4 against the American Gauff, fourth seed, in a tense semifinal.

Both were nervous in an error-plagued first set with six breaks before Sabalenka attacked decisively at the end of the second.

Sabalenka will face 12th-seeded Zheng Qinwen of China in Saturday’s final.

Zheng, 21, achieved her first Grand Slam masterpiece by ending Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska’s incredible run with a 6-4, 6-4 victory in Thursday’s second semi-final.

Zheng aims to become the second Chinese woman to win the Australian Open singles title, marking the 10th anniversary of Li Na’s famous victory.

“It feels amazing,” Zheng said. “I’m very excited to have a great performance and make it to the finals.”

Sabalenka illustrates why she is the favorite for the title

Anticipation for the duel between Sabalenka and Gauff in the opening Grand Slam of the season was high.

Both players had been impressive as they progressed through the draw, setting up a rematch of their thrilling US Open final, which the 19-year-old Gauff overcame in September to claim her first major title.

It was played indoors at the Rod Laver Arena, as was the second semi-final, due to persistent rain in Melbourne.

Sabalenka had been particularly dominant and, after showing resilience in recovering from difficult moments against Gauff, is yet to lose a set in recent fortnights.

The 25-year-old Belarusian unleashed her explosive game on Gauff from the start, hitting 33 winners and attacking her opponent’s second serve in a high-octane display of her power.

While Sabalenka’s style still often leads to errors, she appears more comfortable at Melbourne Park this fortnight having had the experience of lifting her first major title here.

Now, after maintaining her composure to claim victory, she is the first woman to reach back-to-back finals since Serena Williams in 2017.

“I think I was able to focus on myself and was prepared for her to move really well and return every ball,” said Sabalenka, who has reached at least the semifinals of the last six majors.

“I had to be ready to take an extra shot and I was ready for tonight.”

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Coco Gauff aspired to consecutive Grand Slam titles

Gauff fulfilled what had long seemed like her destiny by winning in New York, when she recovered from a set down to beat Sabalenka.

This time she was unable to repeat the feat as Sabalenka ended her undefeated start to the 2024 season.

Gauff arrived in Melbourne after winning a WTA title in Auckland and did not drop a set in her first four matches.

But, after edging out Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in what she called a “bad” quarter-final, she looked extremely nervous in the early stages of the semi-final.

Gauff’s tension was illustrated by six double faults in the first set, although she also showed her ability to mentally reset by twice recovering from a break.

After absorbing so much pressure, Gauff broke for 6-5, but wasted the opportunity to take the set from 30-0 and was punished when Sabalenka dominated the tie-break.

Gauff had to fight off more break points in the first and sixth games of the second set, and the pressure was evident when loose errors from the baseline allowed Sabalenka to break to lead 5-4.

This time, Sabalenka did not miss the opportunity and earned the “revenge” she wanted to impose on Gauff for her defeat in Flushing Meadows.

“It was a tough game for me,” said Gauff, who appeared close to tears as he left Rod Laver Arena.

“Overall, it was a positive tournament. I had chances in both sets, but she played better. I think it came down to a couple of points and that’s tennis.”

Zheng prevents Yastremska from emulating Raducanu

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Zheng has hit more aces and won more first serve points than any other player in women’s singles.

Unlike Sabalenka and Gauff, neither Zheng nor Yastremska had ever played in a Grand Slam semi-final match, and both were looking to emulate notable big wins from the recent past.

An aggressive baseliner with a strong serve, Zheng aimed to follow in the footsteps of Chinese pioneer Li.

Yastremska, meanwhile, was the first qualifier to reach the quarterfinals of a major since Britain’s Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open.

It was Zheng who continued his trip to the delight of Chinese support in a city where there is a large population with ties to the Asian country.

After losing her first service game, Zheng instantly broke Yastremska and took the 23-year-old Ukrainian’s serve once again to seal the opener.

Yastremska, who said her “mission” was to ensure people remembered her nation’s fight against the ongoing Russian invasion, needed treatment for what appeared to be an abdominal injury.

But, as she promised before the match, the world number 93 continued to show the same fight she had shown to overcome qualification and reach the quarterfinals.

Losing serve at 2-1, Yastremska prevented Zheng from consolidating the break by seizing her fourth break opportunity in the next game.

However, a double fault set the tone for a poor seventh game in which Zheng attacked again and the Chinese player used her dominant serve to secure the victory.

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