Aryna Sabalenka's dream start to 2023 continued as she reached her first grand slam final at Magda Linette's expense after Elena Rybakina took out another major winner at the Australian Open.

Sabalenka dispatched unseeded Pole Linette 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to stand a win away from her maiden grand slam title.

The 24-year-old from Belarus arrived at Melbourne Park on a high from winning the Adelaide International without dropping a set.

Sabalenka has gone from strength to strength, with the victory over Linette ensuring she has won all 20 sets she has played in 2023.

The fifth seed is the third female player this century to win her first 10 matches of the season without dropping a set after Anna Smashnova in 2002 and Agnieszka Radwanska in 2013. 

Rybakina got the better of Victoria Azarenka in the first semi-final on Rod Laver Arena, prevailing 7-6 (7-4) 6-3.

The Wimbledon champion has seen off three grand slam champions to reach her second major final, the first of those being world number one Iga Swiatek before she got past Jelena Ostapenko and two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka.

Kazakh Rybakina is the first player to beat a trio of major champions en route to the final of the Australian Open since American Jennifer Capriati back in 2001.

Capriati climbed the title when she achieved that feat 22 years ago.

Elena Rybakina is thrilled her parents will be on hand for Saturday's Australian Open final after they were unable to witness her Wimbledon triumph.

The Moscow-born 23-year-old, now competing for Kazakhstan, achieved a grand slam breakthrough when she overcame Ons Jabeur to triumph at the All England Club last July.

It was a victory that was tinged with sadness, though, with father Andrey and mother Ekaterina not able to obtain visas to travel from Russia to London.

Rybakina broke down in tears in a press conference after her Wimbledon triumph when asked about her absent parents, but they are with her in Melbourne and will be in the stands to watch the title match against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka.

A 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 win against two-time champion Victoria Azarenka on Thursday carried Rybakina through to the showpiece match.

When she was asked whether being on site makes the occasion more special for her parents, Rybakina said: "For sure it's great for them. I didn't even talk with them yet, but I'm sure they're happy. They don't see me often playing live, so I think this time it's a big result already.

"No matter how I play in the final, I think they're very proud and happy.

"For sure they're nervous. I think every match I play they're nervous, no matter if it's live or they're watching on TV. You can never get used to this. Of course, you're going to be nervous no matter if it's first round or final."

Rybakina has lost her three previous matches against Sabalenka, with each of them following the same pattern. Sabalenka has won the first set every time, dropped the second, and then come back to convincingly take the decider.

They have not played since 2021, however, and Rybakina has become a slam champion since then, while Sabalenka still awaits a breakthrough on that scale.

Given Sabalenka is unbeaten in 10 matches this year and has yet to even drop a set, Rybakina may still have her work cut out at the weekend.

However, Rybakina is the player who sank the title hopes of world number one Iga Swiatek in round four, and she also saw off the dangerous Jelena Ostapenko, a former French Open winner, before toppling Azarenka.

"It was a great challenge for me because for sure they have experience of winning grand slams, so it was nothing new for them," Rybakina said. "For me this time I would say it was a bit easier also compared to Wimbledon when I was playing for the first time in the quarters, semis, final.

"For sure, they're very experienced players. I knew that I have to focus on every point. I think in the end I did real well."

The difference between Rybakina before last year's Wimbledon and the player now in the hunt for a second grand slam is obvious.

She knows there are no limits for her at these tournaments, having gone all the way, whereas Sabalenka has never previously contested a singles slam final.

"Everything was new at Wimbledon. Now I more or less understand what to expect," Rybakina said.

Her parents have a grip on what she can achieve too, and Andrey's suggestion she should have gone to college as a teenager rather than join the professional ranks is something they can now laugh off.

"Well, we didn't talk about this, but I will ask for sure now since you mention it," Rybakina said, when her father's advice was brought up. "For every parent, it's difficult to make any decision because I'm young and of course I want to play. For them, they're worried if I will be injured or something.

"But I think he's happy and he's very proud. I know that from the beginning, they believed in me no matter if I will lose first round or anything as a junior because they saw also potential, how I loved the game. I think they're just proud now."

Victoria Azarenka was not impressed with being asked a "provocative question" about a pro-Russia demonstration at the Australian Open after her semi-final defeat to Elena Rybakina.

Azarenka's quest to end a 10-year wait for a third grand slam singles title ended when the Belarusian was beaten 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 by the Wimbledon champion on Thursday.

The 33-year-old's loss on Rod Laver Arena came after Novak Djokovic's father, Srdjan, was seen with supporters of Russian president Vladimir Putin at Melbourne Park.

Pro-Putin agitators staged a rally outside Rod Laver Arena, after Djokovic beat Russian Andrey Rublev to reach the last four on Wednesday, with four people later questioned by police following allegations that security guards were threatened.

Rublev has previously expressed his opposition to Russia's war in Ukraine, which has been ongoing since last February.

Putin supporters chanted and carried Serbian and Russian flags. One man appeared to be wearing a T-shirt adorned with the letter 'Z' – used as a pro-war symbol in Russia.

Srdjan Djokovic was seen standing with the group alongside a man holding a Russian flag with Putin's face on it. According to reports, he said: "Long live the Russians."

Tennis Australia banned Russian and Belarusian flags from being taken into grounds, after a spectator was reported to security for displaying one during a match between Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova.

Azarenka was not happy with being asked about political issues during her post-match press conference.

She told a reporter: "You're here talking about it right now, so obviously it's a topic you want to continue to bring up and up and up again. I don't know what you want me to say."

Asked if Djokovic might be affected by the incident, Azarenka replied: "I don't know what it has to do with Novak at all, to be fair, so...

"I've spoken to actually a security guard today who was walking me to practice every day. I've known him for years. I just asked him what was the accident [sic]. He explained to me.

"I don't know what you guys want us to do about it. Like talk about it? I don't know what's the goal here that it's continuously brought up. These incidents that in my opinion have nothing to do with players, but somehow you keep dragging players into it.

"So what's the goal here? I think you should ask yourself that question, not me.

"Whatever the answer I'm going to give to you right now, it's going to be turned whichever way you want to turn it to. So does it bother me? What bothers me is there's real things that's going on in the world. I don't know. Are you a politician? Are you? Are you covering politics?"

When the reporter said: "No, I'm a sports journalist", Azarenka responded by saying: "And I'm an athlete. You're asking me about things that maybe somebody says are in my control, but I don't believe that.

"I don't know what you want me to answer. If it's a provocative question, then you can spin the story however you want."

Aryna Sabalenka reached uncharted territory in her career by fending off Magda Linette to set up an Australian Open final showdown with Elena Rybakina.

Only a year ago, Sabalenka's game was in crisis as she struggled horrendously with serving yips, but now a first grand slam singles title match awaits the Belarusian.

She scored a 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 victory over unseeded Polish player Linette on Rod Laver Arena, recovering from going an early break down in the first set before taking command of the contest.

Trailing 2-0 and 30-all on serve, Sabalenka ripped a brilliant forehand winner on the run and yelled "Come on!", looking to gee herself up. It did the trick as she won the game to gain a foothold, then came from 40-0 behind in Linette's next service game to break back.

Neither player had a further break point before the tie-break, which fifth seed Sabalenka dominated, before racing 4-1 ahead in the second set.

The 24-year-old, facing an opponent six years her senior, gave Linette precious little hope of a comeback. Linette admirably staved off three match points at 5-1 down, holding serve to keeping Sabalenka waiting, but the deepest grand slam run of her career is over.

Now opportunity knocks for Sabalenka in the biggest match of her life at the weekend, her 20th WTA-level singles final, with Wimbledon champion Rybakina standing in her way.

Data slam: Taking a straight line to glory

Sabalenka has won 10 out of 10 matches in 2023 so far, landing a title in Adelaide before embarking on this run in Melbourne. More impressive than that is all the wins have come in straight sets. She had lost three slam singles semi-finals leading up to this Linette clash, but now that hurdle has been cleared.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Sabalenka – 6/2
Linette – 1/1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Sabalenka – 33/25
Linette – 9/16

BREAK POINTS WON

Sabalenka – 3/7
Linette – 1/4

Elena Rybakina reached her first Australian Open final with a straight-sets victory over Victoria Azarenka on Rod Laver Arena.   Wimbledon champion Rybakina was not at her best but came from a break down in the opener and went on to win 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 on Thursday.   Rybakina struggled with her first serve, but a below-par Azarenka was unable to capitalise in her first Australian Open semi-final since retaining her title a decade ago.   The Kazakh will face Arnya Sabalenka or Magda Linette in her second grand slam final on Saturday.


Rybakina, the 22nd seed, started with a double fault but there were no signs of nerves as she followed that up with three aces to hold, but Azarenka earned the first break with a well-constructed point that she ended with a volley to lead 3-2.

Azarenka was unable to consolidate that break, though, as a combination of power and precision enabled Rybakina to hit straight back and the 23-year-old was 5-3 up following an unforced error from her experienced opponent.

Rybakina was unable to serve out the set as the battling two-time champion conjured up a majestic forehand winner on the run, saving a set point before breaking back.

There was frustration for 24th seed Azarenka when she saw three break points come and go in the next game as Rybakina endured huge struggles with her first serve, but won a tense, error-strewn tie-break when the former world number one sprayed a forehand wide.

Azarenka saved a break point first game of the second with a sublime cross-court forehand winner and held with an ace, but Rybakina was able to secure the break for a 2-1 lead.

Rybakina wasted a great chance to go 4-1 up when she missed a simple forehand, but she was serving for the set after Azarenka also got a forehand all wrong.

She was unable to serve it out, but a flat Azarenka bowed out following a poor service game that she ended by crashing a backhand into the net.


Rybakina overcomes another major hurdle

That is three major champions Rybakina has seen off to reach her maiden Australian Open final.

She beat strong favourite and world number one Iga Swiatek in the fourth round and got past Jelena Ostapenko before toppling Azarenka.


ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Rybakina– 9/3
Azarenka– 3/6

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Rybakina– 30/21
Azarenka– 26/27

BREAK POINTS WON

Rybakina – 5/11
Azarenka– 3/8

The father of Novak Djokovic is facing fierce criticism after posing with supporters of Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Australian Open.

Srdjan Djokovic is in Melbourne to support his son as he chases a 10th grand slam title in Australia and a record-equalling 22nd men's singles major overall.

He has been in the player's box for his 35-year-old son's matches, cheering the Serbian into the semi-finals.

The tournament was rocked on Wednesday by a group of pro-Putin agitators staging a rally outside Rod Laver Arena, after Djokovic beat Russian Andrey Rublev to reach the last four.

Rublev has previously expressed his opposition to Russia's war in Ukraine, which has been ongoing since last February.

The Putin supporters chanted and carried flags of Serbia and Russia. One man appeared to be wearing a T-shirt adorned with the letter 'Z' – used as a pro-war symbol in Russia.

Srdjan Djokovic appeared to happily stand with the group outside the stadium court. According to reports, he said: "Long live the Russians."

Tennis Australia banned Russian and Belarusian flags from the event earlier this month, after a spectator was reported to security for displaying one during a match between Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova.

Russian and Belarusian players have not been able to play under their countries' flags since Putin's regime launched its invasion.

In a statement, Tennis Australia reacted to Wednesday's incident, saying: "A small group of people displayed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards following a match on Wednesday night and were evicted. One patron is now assisting police with unrelated matters.

"Players and their teams have been briefed and reminded of the event policy regarding flags and symbols and to avoid any situation that has the potential to disrupt. We continue to work closely with event security and law enforcement agencies."

Tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg wrote of the Srdjan Djokovic incident: "This is…quite a mess for the #AusOpen, to say the least. The levels of security breakdowns that allowed for this are staggering."

Another tennis reporter, Carole Bouchard, added: "Sorry but they shouldn't warn Srdjan Djokovic after that. They should remove his credential. This is outrageous."

There has been no suggestion from tournament officials that Srdjan Djokovic will face such action, and it remains to be seen whether he attends his son's semi-final against American Tommy Paul on Friday.

Ukrainian WTA player Marta Kostyuk addressed the issue on Twitter with a series of nine exploding head emojis.

Before footage emerged of Srdjan Djokovic alongside the group, Ukraine's ambassador to Australia and New Zealand, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, expressed his dismay.

He wrote on Twitter: "It's a full package. Among the Serbian flags, there is: a Russian flag, Putin, Z-symbol, so-called Donetsk People's Republic flag. It's such a disgrace."

Nick Kyrgios is aiming to return to action at Indian Wells after undergoing successful surgery on his knee, his manager Daniel Horsfall confirmed.

The 2022 Wimbledon runner-up was left "devastated" after being forced to withdraw from the Australian Open on home soil last week.

Kyrgios was ruled out of his home grand slam after an MRI scan on his knee revealed a cyst as a result of a small lateral meniscus tear.

He went under the knife on Monday and is now battling to be ready in time for the first Masters 1000 event of the season at Indian Wells, which starts on March 6.

"The surgery was a great success," Horsfall told Australian newspaper The Herald.

"We couldn't have been more pleased with the outcome of it. Now we will be pushing ahead for a speedy recovery and are aiming to see everyone at Indian Wells."

Kyrgios won the seventh ATP Tour singles title of his career in Washington last August and claimed the Australian Open men's doubles title with Thanasi Kokkinakis 12 months ago.

The 27-year-old, who has yet to play competitively this season, is a two-time quarter-finalist on the hard courts at Indian Wells.

Four people have been questioned by police after displaying pro-Russia symbols and allegedly threatening security guards at the Australian Open.

Tennis Australia banned Russian and Belarusian flags from the event at Melbourne Park earlier this month, after a spectator was reported to security for displaying one during a match between Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl and Russian Kamilla Rakhimova.

Russian and Belarusian players have not been able to play under their countries' flags since Vladimir Putin's regime launched an invasion of Ukraine last February.

On Wednesday, spectators were seen displaying a Russian flag during Andrey Rublev's quarter-final defeat against Novak Djokovic, while one man appeared to be wearing a t-shirt adorned with the letter 'Z' – used as a pro-war symbol in the country.

The man was seen in conversation with an Australian Open official at Rod Laver Arena, while social media footage later showed a flag featuring Putin's face being waved outside the venue. 

A widely reported statement from Tennis Australia read: "Four people in the crowd leaving the stadium revealed inappropriate flags and symbols and threatened security guards.

"Victoria Police intervened and are continuing to question them.

"The comfort and safety of everyone is our priority and we work closely with security and authorities."

Novak Djokovic needs no extra motivation as he aims to win the Australian Open for a 10th time, as his confidence levels continue to rise.

Djokovic stormed into the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-2 6-4 thrashing of Andrey Rublev on Wednesday.

The Serbian has never lost a semi-final in Melbourne, while he has matched Andre Agassi for the longest Australian Open win streak in the Open Era (26).

Asked if this is as confident he has ever felt at the season's opening major, the 21-time grand slam champion told reporters: "I can't really say that this is as confident that I ever felt because I've had some incredible seasons, years here in Australian Open, some matches that are really unforgettable for me.

"I've been fortunate to really live through a lot of success in Australian Open. But [in the] last two matches, playing against two guys that are really good players, in-form players, to beat them dominantly in three sets is something that sends a message to all my opponents remaining in the draw.

"With this kind of game, of course the confidence level rises. I feel good on the court, better and better as the tournament progresses.

"I've been in this situation so many times in my life, in my career, never lost a semi-final at the Australian Open. Hopefully, that will stay the same."

When it was put to Djokovic that he is even more motivated at the age of 35, Djokovic said: "I don't think that I lack determination.

"I always try to give my best, particularly in grand slams, because at this stage of my career those are the tournaments that count the most, of course.

"You could say that there is something extra this year. You could say because [of] the injury, [and] what happened last year. I just wanted to really do well.

"I have a perfect score in Australian hard courts, in Adelaide and here. I've been playing better and better. I couldn't ask for a better situation to be in at the moment."

Djokovic will face Tommy Paul in the last four, after the American defeated compatriot Ben Shelton. 

Paul has never faced Djokovic, who nevertheless knows what to expect.

"I know how he plays. I never faced him on the court, but he's been around for a few years," said Djokovic.

"I watched him play quite a bit, especially during this tournament. He's been playing probably tennis of his life. Very explosive, very dynamic player. 

"I think he can hit all the spots with the serve. A very complete player. First semi-final for him, so of course he doesn't have much to lose."

Three American men progressed to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time since 2000, and the first time in any grand slam since 2005, and Djokovic believes a strong United States contingent is crucial.

"America for our sport is an extremely important country," Djokovic said. "We have some of the biggest tournaments in the world played there.

"I think it is important that we see successful American men and women. Now you have a list of maybe four or five young players that are knocking on the door of the top level. I think that's great for our sport."

Novak Djokovic felt he played his best tennis in Wednesday's straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev which resulted in his 10th semi-final appearance at the Australian Open.

Djokovic produced a dominant performance as he ran out a 6-1 6-2 6-4 victor against Rublev, who has now lost each of his seven career grand slam quarter-finals.

Having missed last year's tournament, nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic has now won 26 consecutive matches at the event, matching Andre Agassi's record streak in the men's singles draw, set between 2000 and 2004.

Speaking courtside after securing another routine win, Djokovic insisted his opponent deserved more but said he had hit top form at Rod Laver Arena.

"Overall, I think the scoreline of the first two sets does not speak to the reality of the match, there were some really close games," Djokovic said.

"Andrey's a great opponent, a great player. I have tonnes of respect for him. He has one of the biggest forehands and is one of the quickest players on the Tour.

"I knew what the game plan was, but it's one thing to imagine how you want to play and another to execute it on the court. 

"If I had to sum it up, in all the important moments and important shots, I found my best tennis. That's what makes me most pleased tonight."

Djokovic described his 6-2 6-1 6-2 demolition of Alex de Minaur in the last 16 as his best performance of the year on Monday, and the Serbian ranked his display against Rublev as a close second.

"I would rank it as number two, but very close to the performance of two nights ago!" Djokovic said.

"I could not be happier with my tennis, honestly. I've been playing very solid from the back of the court and I really love playing under these conditions and on this court.

"I've said it many times, but I love playing here. It's definitely the most special court for me."

Djokovic's pursuit of a record-extending 10th title at Melbourne Park looked to be in doubt as he struggled with a hamstring injury in the early rounds, but after moving freely on Wednesday, the 35-year-old credited his medical team's efforts.

"On the days off it's important to be smart and wise with the body in these particular circumstances. It's important to recover and get ready for the next challenge," he said. 

"I just want to give huge credit to my physiotherapist Miljan [Amanovic], he has been through hell with me over the last 10 days with all the treatments. He deserves huge credit and I'm so grateful to him."

Novak Djokovic claimed a share of another piece of history on Wednesday as he won his 26th consecutive match at the Australian Open.

Djokovic took the title in Melbourne in 2019, 2020 and 2021 before he was denied entry last year and subsequently deported due to his COVID-19 vaccination status.

The 21-time grand slam champion is back this year and has continued his winning run, defeating Roberto Carballes Baena, Enzo Couacaud, Grigor Dimitrov, Alex de Minaur and, on Wednesday, Andrey Rublev.

That quarter-final success saw Djokovic match Andre Agassi for the longest Australian Open win streak in the Open Era.

Agassi won 26 in a row between 2000 and 2004, likewise winning three titles, missing one tournament and then reaching a semi-final before finally being beaten.

Djokovic will hope to avoid the same fate as he bids for the outright record against Tommy Paul in the semis, although he has never been beaten in a last-four match in Melbourne, winning the title on the previous nine occasions he reached this stage.

Those nine titles are a record for any man at the Australian Open and for Djokovic at any one major.

This is also now Djokovic's favourite grand slam in terms of match wins, with the 6-1 6-2 6-4 dismantling of Rublev his 87th victory in Melbourne. It passed his 86 wins at Wimbledon.

Professional tennis player John Chin is set to represent Jamaica in the upcoming Davis Cup tie for the first time since becoming a professional.

Chin, a two-time representative on Jamaica's Davis Cup team, is preparing for another Davis Cup battle on February 4-5, when Jamaica takes on Estonia on home turf.

Chin, a former top junior made a strong professional debut in the second half of last year. While still only 18 years old, he played through the qualifying round and into the semi-finals of a Men's $25,000 tournament in the Dominican Republic in his first ever professional competition.

 Then in November 2022, partnering with Miles Jones of the USA, he recorded his first professional doubles win in Santo Domingo. Playing against Aydan Gomez-Osorio (Netherlands) and Kaipo Marshall of Barbados, Chin and Miles won in straight sets 6-1, 7-6.

 "The transition from the junior circuit to the pro circuit is definitely a step up in skill level," says the Mandeville native who is trained locally by Ryan Russell of Russell Tennis Academy.

 "It is very challenging but I will continue to work on my game and hopefully improve my ranking this year."

 Having reached a Junior ITF (International Tennis Federation) career high ranking of 211, Chin hopes to eventually better that on the pro circuit.

He ended 2022 ranked 1019 on the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) Men's Singles pro tour.

He played his freshman year of college tennis at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in 2021-2022, where he went undefeated at 8-0 in the spring season.

MTSU ended the year ranked in the top 20 of NCAA Division 1 men's tennis. After one season with the Tennessee college Chin decided to transfer to Boise State University (BSU) in Idaho where he will wear the colours of the Broncos.

"I am looking forward to training with the Boise men's tennis team. I want to make an impact on the team and to help BSU reach our goals for the 2023 spring season and beyond." BSU's head coach Luke Shields and assistant coach Alexander Free both have excellent reputations as coaches and I expect to do well under their tutelage." says Chin.

He is one of only three Jamaican men who are currently ranked on the ATP tour. Blaise Bicknell leads the group as the highest ranked player at 764, with Chin second at 1019, followed by Rowland 'Randy' Phillips at 1398. All three men are again slated to play for Jamaica in the tie against Estonia.

 

Novak Djokovic cruised into the Australian Open semi-finals with a crushing 6-1 6-2 6-4 win against Andrey Rublev, producing a near-faultless display at Rod Laver Arena.

The 21-time grand slam winner needed just over two hours to reach his 10th semi-final at the event – making him just the second player to hit double figures in the Open Era after Roger Federer (15).

Djokovic dominated from the off, breaking Rublev at just the second attempt and repeating the trick in the sixth game after angrily calling out a heckler between points.

Rublev faced seven break points in a one-sided opener as Djokovic pushed him back with a series of powerful groundstrokes, and there was to be little respite for the Russian in the second set.

Rublev gave up two breaks either side of a back-and-forth game in which Djokovic overcame intense pressure to hold, with the world number six ranting at the umpire over the time Djokovic took to serve. 

Djokovic then held serve in another lengthy game to see out the second set, before securing another swift break at the outset of the third as a frustrated Rublev hurled his racquet to the ground.

While Rublev improved in a low-key third set, Djokovic's excellent service game ensured the Russian became just the second male player in the Open Era to lose each of his first seven major quarter-finals, after Tommy Robredo.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is in ominous form in his pursuit of a record-extending 10th Australian Open title, moving freely after being troubled by a hamstring injury in the earlier rounds, as he teed up a meeting with American Tommy Paul.

Data slam: Djokovic as good as ever in resounding win

Having missed out on the Australian Open last year following his deportation from the country, Djokovic has resembled a man on a mission this time around as he looks to get his hands on the trophy for a fourth time in five years.

Djokovic is just the seventh male player to reach the Australian Open's last four after turning 35 in the Open Era, after Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer, Mal Anderson, Rafael Nadal, Arthur Ashe and Colin Dibley.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 14/5
Rublev – 6/3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 32/21
Rublev – 26/29

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 5/14
Rublev – 0/5 

Tommy Paul is into the last four at a grand slam for the first time after overcoming surprise package Ben Shelton in an all-American quarter-final at the Australian Open.

Paul triumphed 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 5-7 6-4 against Shelton at Rod Laver Arena, ending the 20-year-old's surprise run on his first trip outside the United States. 

World number 35 Paul showed his class in longer exchanges between the two big-serving Americans, though Shelton briefly troubled the 25-year-old when he claimed the third set after going a break down.

Having found an immediate break to quell Shelton's momentum, Paul dominated on serve in the fourth set to become the first American man to reach the Australian Open semi-finals since Andy Roddick in 2009.

Having teed up a meeting with either Novak Djokovic or Andrey Rublev, Paul said: "Yesterday when I was doing a couple of interviews, they asked how it felt to be in the quarter-finals, and I was like, 'semi-finals sounds a little better'.

"I'm pumped to be there and really excited for whoever I play. Making it to the second week of a slam is everyone's dream when they start playing tennis. So I can't believe I'm here right now."

Data slam: Paul dominates on serve

Having originally appeared to be on course for a straight-sets triumph, Paul could have lost his way when Shelton claimed the third set, but the 25-year-old was outstanding on serve to see it through.

Paul won all 17 of his first-serve points in the final set, winning 86 per cent throughout the match as his quality told.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Paul – 7/3
Shelton – 24/6

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Paul – 43/26
Shelton – 42/50

BREAK POINTS WON

Paul – 3/15
Shelton – 2/4 

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."

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