Aryna Sabalenka sets up a semi-final with surprise-package Magda Linnet on Wednesday at the Australian Open, where Novak Djokovic will later step up 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 seed Sabalenka is the highest remaining seed in the women’s draw to suffer a shock. The match was closer than the score suggested, but Sabalenka is in great form — she has yet to drop a set in Melbourne and has won nine matches in 2023.
It’s a far cry from a year ago, when he struggled badly with his serve and broke down in tears at the Australian Open warm-up tournament.
“It feels really special to be here in the semifinals, it was a tough match,” said Sabalenka, 24, who was competing in her first Australian Open quarterfinal.
“I’m very happy to win and it’s great to play here today, the atmosphere was incredible.”
Sabalenka will play unseeded Lynette for a place in Saturday’s final after reaching her first major semi-final at the age of 30.
Linnett continued to fly the flag for Poland after the shock exit of world number one Iga Suatec by stunning former world number one Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5.
“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 thankful and happy. Thank you for the cheers and support, I really needed it.
“So we’ll continue. I don’t want to get too excited because we’re still in the tournament,” added Pole, who will break into the top 30 for the first time.
Two-time Melbourne champion Victoria Azarenka will face Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina in the other semi-final.
– Djokovic faces Rublev test –
Djokovic can go one step closer to equaling Rafael Nadal’s men’s record 22 Grand Slam titles if he meets Andrey Rublev for a place in the semi-finals.
The 35-year-old Serb is hot favorite to win a record-extending 10th Melbourne crown and will have to stop short as his hamstring seemingly recovers.
He called Marling’s three-set match with Australian 22nd seed Alex de Minaur on Monday his best match of the year so far.
“Tonight, the way I played, the way I felt, gives me reason to believe now that I can go all the way,” he warned later.
Djokovic is the only man to have won a Grand Slam before.
But while his left hamstring is much improved, Russian fifth seed Rublev will be no pushover.
The talented 25-year-old Danish teenager showed all his fighting qualities to save two match points in the last 16 against Holger Rune, dropping five straight sets en route to victory.
The other men’s quarter-final was an all-American between two unconventional players, Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul.
Shelton, 20, is on his first tour outside the United States.
The first semi-final is already confirmed, with third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas taking on 18th seed Karen Khachanov of Russia.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)
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