Sabalenka defeats Vekic to reach her first Australian Open semifinal.
Aryna Sabalenka defeated unseeded Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday at Rod Laver Arena in a one-hour, 49-minute battle to reach her first Australian Open semi-final.
The highest-ranked player remaining in the draw, the Belarusian fifth seed, will compete against Poland’s Magda Linette, another unseeded player, to advance to Saturday’s final.
Sabalenka, who was making her debut in a quarterfinal at the Australian Open, stated, “It feels really special to be in the semi-finals here, it was a tough match.”
“I’m extremely pleased with the victory, and it was so enjoyable to play here today; the atmosphere was unbelievable,” the player stated.
Many observers predicted that Sabalenka would win her first major when the match started. She had not dropped a set in eight matches since 2023, when she won the most recent WTA Adelaide International.
In each of the previous two seasons, the world number five had reached the semi-finals of the US Open, and in 2021, she reached the Wimbledon final four.
In contrast, 26-year-old Croatian Vekic, who is currently ranked 64th, has been working her way back into the top 20 since undergoing knee surgery two years ago, which she thought would end her career.
After the US Open in 2019, this was only her second major quarterfinal.
However, Vekic was able to put a lot of pressure on Sabalenka’s serve early on because she had won five of the pair’s six matches, including the Tokyo Olympics and San Diego in October.
The Belarusian held off the assault and led 2-1 by saving three break points.
She broke Vekic to love for 3-1, but the Croatian player immediately returned to serve in the following game, securing it on the first of two additional break points.
Vekic’s serve remained shaky, and seven double faults in her first three service games forced her to save break points in each of her service games.
Vekic tried to change her play, using punishing forehand winners and delicate drop shots to widen Sabalenka’s serve.
However, this particular version of Sabalenka, who has frequently been overcome by nerves in the past, did not give in and continued to lead before taking a crucial break to take a 5-3 lead.
Despite Sabalenka serving for the set, Vekic still had a chance to level. After a titanic sixty minutes, Sabalenka prevailed 6-3 after she failed to hit a forehand winner.
Sabalenka, a 24-year-old, stated, “I think just because I was calm and I kind of expect this game from her.”
I was able to remain in the game regardless, as a result. Therefore, I believe this was the key.
At the start of the second set, Sabalenka had the momentum and put more pressure on Vekic’s serve. She broke twice to make it 3-0 and increase Vekic’s double fault count to 12.
When serving for the match at 5-2, Sabalenka wobbled, serving two double faults and facing break points, as she had done on every service game.
Sabalenka crossed the line on her first match point after three deuces and as tension mounted.