Aryna Sabalenka is now 18-1 and just one win away from what would already be her third title of the season.
Sabalenka, who began her 2023 campaign by triumphing in Adelaide and at the Australian Open, swept aside Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday afternoon. The Belarusian needed only one hour and one hour and 24 minutes to advance, setting up a final showdown against either Iga Swiatek or Elena Rybakina.
The first semi-final was delayed by more than 30 minutes because of audio problems in Stadium 1, but it hardly bothered Sabalenka.
Sabalenka has lost only to Barbora Krejcikova in three sets in the Dubai quarter-finals so far this year. The world No 2 avenged that loss in the Indian Wells fourth round, dropping one set in the process. She otherwise hasn’t come close to losing this fortnight, and she certainly didn’t on Friday. Sabalenka was broken twice by Sakkari, but she was ruthless in the return game — breaking the Greek on five occasions.
After Sabalenka survived a tough service game at 2-2 in the second, she was off to the races and closed out the match with ease.
“I’m just super happy with another final and super happy with the win against Maria,” the 24-year-old commented. “She’s such a great fighter and it’s always tough matches against her.”
Regardless of whom Sabalenka meets in the final, it will be a tough matchup. If Swiatek wins the second second semi-final, it will be No 1 vs No 2. If Rybakina prevails, it will be a rematch of the Australian Open final — won by Sabalenka in a tight three-setter.
Earlier in the tournament Sabalenka beat Russian Evgeniya Rodina (6-2, 6-0), Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko (W/O), Krejcikova, the No 16 seed (6-3, 2-6, 6-4) and American Coco Gauff, the No 6 seed (6-4, 6-0).
Sakkari, the 2022 Indian Wells runner-up, advanced by defeating Shelby Rogers (2-6, 6-4, 6-0), Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina, the No 27 seed (3-6, 6-2, 6-4), Czech Karolina Pliskova, the No 17 seed (6-4, 5-7, 6-3) and Czech Petra Kvitova, the No 15 seed (4-6, 7-5, 6-1).
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