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Australian Open: Sabalenka overpowers Vekic to secure fourth grand slam semi-final berth

ifth seed Aryna Sabalenka kept alive her hopes of a maiden grand slam final appearance after downing Donna Vekic in straight sets in their Australian Open quarter-final on Thursday.

Sabalenka, who has lost three major semi-finals, progressed to a last-four date with Poland’s Magda Linette, after triumphing 6-3 6-2 over the unseeded 26-year-old Croatian in one hour and 47 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.

The 24-year-old Belarussian’s powerful forehand and ability to win the key points ultimately made the difference.

Sabalenka blasted 38 winners for the match, the majority on her forehand, compared to Dekic’s 21, while she also sent down nine aces.

Neither player was able to assert themselves in a disjointed first set, where Sabalenka got the first break in the fourth game with a deft drop shot, only for Vekic to respond immediately with a break back.

Vekic won only four-of-17 second-serve points in the first set, committing nine double faults, as Sabalenka broke again for 5-3 before serving out the opening frame.

Sabalenka appeared set to cruise into the last four when she broke Vekic again in the opening game of the second frame, racing to a 3-0 lead, before the Croatian showed some fight.

Data slam: Sabalenka clutch under pressure

The match was closer than the scoreline suggested, with eight of the first 12 games going to deuce, but Sabalenka’s big-game experience arguably held her in good stead under pressure.

The Belarussian faced nine break points in the first set, saving eight of those, while she finished the match surviving 12 of 14, including three in the decisive game.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Sabalenka– 9/9
Vekic– 4/13

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Sabalenka– 38/35
Vekic– 21/25

BREAK POINTS WON

Sabalenka– 5/13
Vekic– 2/14

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