Sabalenka strolls past Ostapenko, sets up Italian Open semi with Collins

tennis15 May 2024 19:29| Ā© AFP

World number two Aryna Sabalenka had little trouble in defeating Latvian ninth seed Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-4 to reach the Italian Open semifinals on Wednesday where she will face American 13th seed Danielle Collins.

Sabalenka has never won the Italian Open but she had the majority of the support at Centre Court, where the crowd rose to congratulate the Belarusian, who wrapped up victory in a little over an hour.

"With this amazing atmosphere, this amazing support, that's why I'm super-motivated here," Sabalenka said.

"This is the dream tournament for me to win because of these emotions I'm getting from you guys and hopefully I give it back to you, I love you Rome."

Ostapenko managed to save two break points in the opening game, but Sabalenka broke at the next two opportunities to lead 4-1, and although the Latvian held her next service game to love, she was unable to halt Sabalenka's march.

Sabalenka needed only one break of serve, making it 4-3, to take the second set and the victory, with Ostapenko unable to force a single break point over the course of the match.

Australian Open champion Sabalenka will face Collins for a spot in the final on Thursday after the American beat Belarusian 24th seed Victoria Azarenka 6-4 6-3 in Wednesday's other quarterfinal.

Former number one Azarenka broke serve in the very first game but Collins fought back to take a 5-2 lead.

Momentum briefly switched Azarenka's way but the American took an intense first set and marched to a 4-1 lead in the second, before reaching her first Rome semifinal.

She has now won 19 of her last 20 matches.

Sabalenka was the only player to beat Collins in that run, in three sets in the fourth round of the Madrid Open.

Collins, who is set to retire at the end of the season, won titles in Miami and Charleston earlier this year.

Iga Swiatek will face American third seed Coco Gauff in the other semifinal.