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Friday, February 3, 2023

Omens Sabalenka joins Lynette in Australian Open semi-finals

FeaturedSports NewsOmens Sabalenka joins Lynette in Australian Open semi-finals

Aryna Sabalenka set up a semi-final with surprise package Magda Linnet at the Australian Open on Wednesday, where Novak Djokovic will later add to his bid for a 22nd Grand Slam title.

Belarusian Sabalenka looks red-hot favorite to win her first major crown after another ruthless display to beat Croatia’s Donna Vecic 6-3, 6-2 at the Rod Laver Arena.

Fifth-seeded Sabalenka is the highest remaining seed in the women’s draw after the shocks.

The match was closer than the score suggested, but Sabalenka is in superb form – she has yet to drop a set in Melbourne and has won all nine matches in 2023.

It’s a far cry from a year ago, when she struggled badly with her serve and cried in the Australian Open warm-up tournament.

“It feels really special to be in the semi-finals here, it was a tough match,” said the 24-year-old Sabalenka, who was making her first Australian Open quarter-final appearance.

“I’m very happy with the win and it was great to play here today, the atmosphere was incredible.”

Sabalenka will play unseeded Lanette for a place in Saturday’s final after reaching her first major semi-final at the age of 30.

Lanette continued to fly the flag for Poland after world number one Iga Switek suffered a shock exit with a 6-3, 7-5 win over former world number one Karolina Pliskova.

“I’m so emotional, I really can’t believe it,” said Lynette, ranked 45th in the world.

“It’s a dream come true. I’m so grateful and happy. Thank you for cheering and supporting, I really needed it.

“So let’s keep going. I don’t want to get too excited because we’re still in the tournament,” added Poole, who will break into the top 30 for the first time.

Two-time Melbourne champion Victoria Azarenka will face Wimbledon winner Elina Rybakina in the other semi-final.

Djokovic faces a Rublev test.

Djokovic can move one step closer to equaling Rafael Nadal’s men’s record 22 Grand Slam titles when he faces Andre Rublev for a place in the semi-finals.

The 35-year-old Serb is the favorite to win a record 10th Melbourne and with his hamstring seemingly on the mend, he will look to make some stops.

He described Monday’s three-set mauling of Australian 22nd seed Alex de Manor as his best match of the year so far.

“Tonight, the way I played, the way I felt, I now have reason to believe I can go all the way,” he warned later.

Djokovic is the only man left in the draw to have won a Grand Slam before.

But despite his much-improved left hamstring, Russian fifth seed Rublev will be under no pressure.

The 25-year-old showed all his fighting skills to save two match points in the last 16 against talented Danish youngster Holger Rooney, who cruised to victory in five dog sets.

The other men’s quarterfinal is an all-American affair between unseeded Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul.

Shelton, 20, is on his first trip outside of the United States.

The first semi-final has already been confirmed, with third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on 18th seed Karen Khachanov of Russia.

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