Aryna Sabalenka downs Coco Gauff to reach Australian Open final

Aryna Sabalenka has stormed into the Australian Open final by beating Coco Gauff in straight sets.

Aryna Sabalenka has stormed into the Australian Open final by beating Coco Gauff in straight sets. Photo: Getty

Aryna Sabalenka has exacted sweet revenge over Coco Gauff to power into a second successive Australian Open final at Melbourne Park.

After losing last year’s US Open title decider to Gauff in New York, Sabalenka turned the tables with a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory over the American teenager in a blockbuster semi-final at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night.

Sabalenka is now a hot favourite to beat either Chinese 12th seed Zheng Qinwen or Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska and become the first player since her fellow Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in 2013 to successfully defend their Open women’s crown.

Looking almost unstoppable, the 25-year-old world No.2 has yet to drop a set this campaign and showed enormous resolve in not only snapping Gauff’s 12-match grand slam winning streak but also the fourth seed’s unbeaten start to 2024.

“I was just ready for anything tonight and I think that was the key – and definitely your support guys,” Sabalenka said.

“Last time I played her (in New York), I didn’t have, I would say, almost any support.

“I was able to focus on myself and I was prepared that she’s going to move really good and she’s going to put all balls back to me and I just have to be ready to play an extra shot.”

Gauff won the season-opening WTA event in Auckland and had been hoping to become the first woman to capture back-to-back majors since Naomi Osaka completed the Australian Open-US Open double three years ago.

Instead, Sabalenka is now within a win of shedding her tag as a one-slam wonder on Saturday night after producing her best performance of the tournament.

The second seed made a flying start, holding her first service game to love, while Gauff opened the night with two double-faults and was broken almost in the blink of an eye.

The American broke back to level at 2-2 only to drop three of the next four games to trail 5-3.

Sabalenka failed to serve it out, then missed a set point in the 10th game as Gauff roared to a 6-5 lead.

Alas, this time Gauff was unable to hold and paid the price as Sabalenka raised her game with a clutch tiebreaker to take an all-important one-set-to-love lead.

Six double faults in the first set cruelled Gauff, but both players stepped up their serves in the second to slug it out with some fierce baseline rallies.

It was Sabalenka, though, who nabbed the only break of the set in the ninth game, before coolly closing out the match after one hour 42 minutes.


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