Sabalenka blasts past Gauff to reach Indian Wells semifinals

tennis15 March 2023 21:41| © AFP
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Aryna Sabalenka © Gallo Images

Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka overpowered US teenager Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-0 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the WTA Masters 1000 at Indian Wells.

Sabalenka, in search of a third title this year after a victory at Adelaide and her first Grand Slam crown in Melbourne, needed just 64 minutes to subdue the young American star and set up a clash with either two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or last year's Indian Wells runner-up, Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Sabalenka was in full command of her serve, and her thunderous ground strokes left Gauff with few options.

The Belarusian had five aces and a total of 18 winners. She didn't face a break point and closed out the match with three straight unreturnable serves.

"It was a great match," Sabalenka said. "I felt really great on court.

"I just put a lot of pressure on her serve and that's why she was struggling, especially in the second set with her serve. That helped me win this match in two sets."

She avenged a loss to Gauff at Toronto last year and narrowed the gap in their head-to-head, after losing three of four prior matches against the American.

"I didn't really think about our previous matches," Sabalenka said. "I feel a little bit different on the court this year. I feel like I'm a little bit different player.

"I knew if I'm going to bring my tennis on court today, that I'll have all of chances to win this match."

Gauff fired half a dozen aces, 12 winners in all, but under the intense pressure applied by Sabalenka had 14 more unforced errors than her opponent.

Sabalenka's next opponent will be battle-tested. Seventh-ranked Sakkari has needed three sets in all three of her matches so far while Kvitova, a former world No 2 now ranked 15th, saved four match points in her fourth-round win over third-ranked Jessica Pegula.