Belarusian powerhouse Aryna Sabalenka has defied a poor record against Croatia’s Donna Vekic to advance to an Australian Open semi-final showdown with surprise package Poland Magda Linette.
Fifth-seeded Sabalenka had won just one of their last six games against Vekic but reversed that to triumph 6-3, 6-2 at the Rod Laver Arena.
She is now unbeaten in nine games this year after winning the Adelaide International title.
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“I remember the last two games she won (at the Tokyo Olympics and last year in San Diego),” Sabalenka said.
“It’s good I didn’t think about 1-5. Now it’s 2-5.
“(Vekic) is a great player and it’s hard to play against her.
“I kind of expected this game from her.
“I was definitely able to stay in the game.”
Linette continued her dream run at Melbourne Park, upsetting former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova to book a last four date with Sabalenka on Thursday.
Linette, 30, managed the crucial break in the 11th game of the second set and kept her nerve to end the match, winning 6-3, 7-5 in an hour and 27 minutes.
In her previous 29 Grand Slam participations, Linette had never advanced further than the third round.
“It’s so emotional; I really can’t believe it,” she said. “Dreams come true.
“We’ll continue anyway.
“I don’t want to get too upset because we’re still in the tournament, but I’m super grateful and happy.”
The late-blooming Pole admitted she’d gotten much better at managing her emotions on the pitch.
“All my life I’ve taken failure and loss very personally, so I had to separate those two things,” she said.
“It was really difficult because I often felt that the misses, the mistakes, defined me.
“My coaches and I did a really great job and I’m really grateful to them because they put up with a lot of crap.”
All five of Linette’s scalps at Melbourne Park that year were included in the world’s top 50.
The loss means Pliskova’s long wait for a first Grand Slam title continues.
The 30-year-old Czech lost her two major finals – at the 2016 US Open against Angelique Kerber and at Wimbledon two years ago against Ash Barty.
https://7news.com.au/sport/tennis/unseeded-veteran-magda-linettes-dream-run-continues-as-powerhouse-aryna-sabalenka-awaits-in-australian-open-semis-c-9553513 Australian Open: Magda Linette’s dream run continues as powerhouse Aryna Sabalenka awaits her in semifinals