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

  • Raducanu 'grateful' and 'excited' having 'rekindled the love for tennis' Raducanu 'grateful' and 'excited' having 'rekindled the love for tennis'

    Emma Raducanu is thrilled to have "rekindled" her love for tennis, with the former US Open champion admitting she is "in a lot better spirits on and off the court".

    The world number 168, who had not played since the Madrid Open in April, marked her return from injury with a run to the Nottingham Open semi-finals just over a week ago. 

    Last year, Raducanu underwent wrist and ankle surgery that, at one point, confined her to a mobility scooter, but she has prioritised fitness over competition during the 2024 season.

    Having missed the French Open to focus on preparing for the grass-court season, she has also opted not to participate for Great Britain in the forthcoming Olympics.

    The 21-year-old is now stepping up her preparations for Wimbledon, which continue when she faces Sloane Stephens in Eastbourne on Tuesday.

    And Raducanu will enter the contest against her fellow former Flushing Meadows champion with a real spring in her step.

    "I really feel like I'm in a lot better spirits on and off the court," she told BBC TV. "It's a nice feeling for me because it hasn't always been the case.

    "I'm very happy to have rekindled the love for tennis and just enjoying the challenges that come with it and not getting so down about it, just trying a way to go around.

    "I'm just really grateful to have this feeling again because it's something that I feel like I've been missing in a way for the last few years.

    "I haven't felt this good about my tennis and excited about it and passionate for a long, long time."

  • Paul races to Queen's Championship title with straight-sets win Paul races to Queen's Championship title with straight-sets win

    Tommy Paul claimed his first title on grass with a straight-sets victory over Lorenzo Musetti at the Queen's Championship on Sunday.

    It took the American just 88 minutes to get his 6-1 7-6 (10-8) win after a front-footed, aggressive approach.

    Paul cruised through the opening set but looked like he might be forced into a decider after failing to serve out the match at 5-4.

    The Italian edged them into a tie-break, but Paul rallied from 1-4 down to get his hands on the title.

    His 27th tour-level win of the season also ensured he will surpass Taylor Fritz to become the American number one for the first time in his career on Monday.

    Data Debrief: Paul hits cruise control

    It was a dominant performance from Paul throughout Queen's as he only dropped a single set on his way to capturing his third ATP Tour title.

    On Sunday, he made just six unforced errors as he came out on top in his first-ever meeting with Musetti.

  • Pegula fights back in German Open to earn maiden grass-court title Pegula fights back in German Open to earn maiden grass-court title

    Jessica Pegula claimed her maiden grass-court title, fighting back from the brink of defeat to see off Anna Kalinskaya in the German Open on Sunday.

    In just her second tournament since returning from a rib injury that kept her out of the French Open, Pegula earned her first title of the year with a 6-7 (0-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-3) victory.

    Kalinskaya rallied after a slow start in the first set from 3-0 down to get to a tie-break in which she scored seven perfect points to take the early lead.

    Pegula regained her composure in the second to force a decider, though she was put to the test once more when she found herself 4-1 down.

    However, the world number five refused to back down and won the final five points of the match to seal the win after two hours and 38 minutes on the court.

    The American had already begun the day by finishing off an efficient performance in her suspended semi-final against Coco Gauff.

    She edged past the top seed 7-5 7-6 (7-2) to reach her first-ever grass-court final while earning her first Top 10 win of the year.

    Data Debrief: Pegula comes out on top

    Pegula saved five championship points on her way to defeating Kalinskaya to earn her fifth career title, and her first since 2023 in Seoul.

    It was just Pegula's second meeting with the Russian, and once again, she had to go through three sets to get the better of her, just like at the 2019 Citi Open.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.