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Sabalenka beats Gauff to set up final vs Zheng

Melbourne, Australia, Jan 25 (EFE).- Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka booked her place in the Australian Open final with a straight sets win over American Coco Gauff on Thursday.

The reigning champion Sabalenka, seeded 2nd, won a nervy semi final 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 to make up for her defeat to Gauff in the 2023 US Open final.

Sabalenka is the first player to reach back-to-back Australian Open finals since Serena Williams achieved the feat in 2016 and 2017.

“It was an incredible match,” Sabalenka said. “She’s a great player, always tough battles against her. I think the key was that I was able to stay focused no matter what, no matter what the score was, I just kept trying my best, kept fighting for it.”

“Of course I’m super happy to be in another final of the Grand Slam. Hopefully I can do a little bit better than the last time,” she added.

Sabalenka, who has not dropped a set at this year’s tournament, will face China’s 12th seed Qinwen Zheng, who beat Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the second semi final on Thursday.

Zheng ended Yastremska’s stunning string of wins in the competition with a 6-4, 6-4 victory to reach her first ever Grand Slam final.

“It feels unbelievable. I’m super excited to have such a great performance today,” the 21-year-old said.

Zheng is hoping to become only the second Chinese woman to win the Australian Open, after Li Na’s victory a decade ago.

Sabalenka leads Zheng 1-0 in their head-to-head, having beaten her 6-1, 6-4 in their only previous match, at the US Open last year. EFE

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