Tennis: Sabalenka into second Wimbledon semi-final

AFP , Wednesday 12 Jul 2023

Aryna Sabalenka powered into a second Wimbledon semi-final on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Madison Keys of the United States.

US player Madison Keys returns the ball to Belarus s Aryna Sabalenka during their women s singles quarter-finals tennis match on the tenth day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 12, 2023. AFP

World number two Sabalenka from Belarus, a semi-finalist in 2021, came through 6-2, 6-4 and will face either defending champion Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan or Tunisia's Ons Jabeur for a place in Saturday's final.

Along with all Russian and Belarusian players, Sabalenka was banned from the 2022 tournament following the invasion of Ukraine.

Belarus is a key ally of Moscow.

"It was an amazing battle and I'm so happy to be back in the semi-final. I just hope to do better than last time," said Sabalenka.

She was defeated in three sets by Karolina Pliskova in the last four in 2021.

"Madison is a great player. I'm super happy that I came back when I was 2-4 down, 0-40 in the second set," she said.

"When I was a little girl I dreamed of winning Wimbledon. It's something special here."

Sabalenka clinched a double break in the opening set, in the first and fifth games, with her American opponent not helped by 10 unforced errors, twice as many as the more accurate Belarusian.

Keys, playing her second quarter-final at Wimbledon, also needed a quick courtside visit from the tournament doctor at 1-4 down in the opener.

The world number 18 broke for a 4-2 lead in the second set and was 40-0 in the next game but immediately undid all her hard work.

Sabalenka, 25, made the American pay by holding and breaking again for a 5-4 lead, which was converted into victory off a second match point after 87 minutes of action on Court One.

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