Sabalenka is in perfect form, entering a third US Open semifinal

NEW YORK — No. 1 ranked Arina Sabalenka decided her fate Sunday night, hoping to sleep. But when Jelena Ostapenko took the first set from Ika Svidek, she couldn’t turn off the television.

„I was so curious, what’s going on there?” Sabalenka later explained.

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What ensued was a straight-set demolition, sending Swiatek’s No.1 ranking for 75 weeks into Sabalenka’s open arms. When she woke up on Monday, some news was overwhelming.

„I opened my phone,” Sabalenka said, „Guys, I have a match today. I have things to take care of.’ I tried to focus on the game and not let this message distract me.

For Sabalenka, the work doesn’t stop at the world No.1

It didn’t. Second seed Sabalenka defeated Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-3. On Wednesday, she followed that up with a 6-0, 6-4 quarterfinal win over China’s Zheng Qinwen. It was over in 73 minutes.

Sabalenka served brilliantly, winning 37 out of 46 points and not facing a single break point. The 20-year-old Zheng looked overwhelming, at least initially, in his first major quarterfinal.

„I think I definitely played better tennis today,” Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. „Very happy with the performance. I got another chance to do well in the semis.

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Sabalenka has won the first seven major quarterfinals of his career. He was 3-0 at the US Open. Chris Evert, almost unbelievably, won his first of 48 Grand Slam singles quarterfinals.

Sabalenka, fifth in a row in a major semifinal, will play the winner of Thursday night’s match between No.9 Marketa Vondrousova and No.17 Madison Keys.

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Sabalenka is in the US Open semifinals for the third year in a row; He lost to Leila Fernandez in 2021 and Iga Svidek in 2022.

Sabalenka goes for some remarkable history. The last woman to reach all four major semifinals in the same year was Serena Williams in 2016. Sabalenka is 22-2 in Grand Slams this year. Sabalenka’s highest win total in 2021 is 15. Since the turn of the century, only three players have won more majors in a single calendar year — Serena Williams (three times), Justine Henin (twice) and Jennifer Capriati.

The first set was a huge moment for Zeng. The scorching sun and the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof made for a difficult ball-viewing environment as Sabalenka’s first serve sailed into Zeng’s frame.

It didn’t get any better after that, as Sabalenka won 22 of the first 27 points to take a 5-0 lead.

Around 24 minutes in, Zheng got on the board, but three minutes later, Sabalenka made it a set. The third consecutive US Open quarterfinal winner took a 6-0 bagel to start the match.

Zheng was the different player in the second set, playing with poise that kept him on the edge of the top 20. Serving at 2, he finished a 21-shot rally with a forehand winner on his way to 3. -2 lead.

Sabalenka made the first break point of the second set — converting it when Zeng’s backhand went long. Sabalenka closed it out for a 4-3 lead.

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