Sabalenka beats Gauff: Australian Open semifinal – as it happened

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This live page is now closed. Thanks for joining us. These were the updates as Aryna Sabalenka stormed into her second consecutive Australian Open final with a 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 win over Coco Gauff on Thursday, June 25:

  • Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus beat fourth-seeded Coco Gauff of the United States 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 to reach the women’s singles final of the 2024 Australian Open.
  • Sabalenka will play her second consecutive final, having won last year.
  • She will play the winner of the second semifinal between unseeded Ukrainian player Dayana Yastremska and 12th seed Qwinwen Zheng of China.
  • Gauff is the reigning US Open champion, a title she won by beating Sabalenka in the final in New York in September.
  • Our live coverage continues

    Stay with Al Jazeera as we bring you live coverage from the AFC Asian Cup in Qatar, where Jordan play Bahrain and South Korea take on Malaysia in a thrilling end to the group stage.

    We’ll have the first men’s semifinal for you on Friday as Novak Djkovic attempts to reach yet another Grand Slam final. He is up against Jannik Sinner at the Rod Laver Arena.

    The match begins at 2:30pm (03:30 GMT), but we’ll start building up to the match two hours earlier.

    See you then!

    It’s a wrap

    There was a lot of hype surrounding this encounter, and both players delivered the goods.

    Sabalenka came out of the gates strongly, going up 5-2 in the opening set.

    However, Gauff showed her class by rallying back to take the set the distance before Sabalenka regained her composure to come back strongly in the tiebreak.

    Gauff held her own for large swathes of the second set, but in the end, it was the eight double faults and a first serve percentage of just 57 percent that ultimately proved the difference.

    Sabalenka will now await the winner of the second semifinal between Dayana Yastremska and Qinwen Zheng, which is just about to get under way.

    Thank you for keeping us company, and until the next time, this is Rohan Sharma, signing off on behalf of Al Jazeera Sport.

    ‘I was prepared to fight for every point’

    A victorious Sabalenka shares her thoughts after the match: “It was definitely a tough match. I was ready that she would try her best to come back [in the second set].”

    “She is an incredible player. I really enjoy playing her. Win or lose, it’s [always] great matches. I really hope in the future we’re gonna play many more finals. Hopefully I’m gonna win all of them,” she adds cheekily.

    “I was prepared to fight for every point, no matter what. I kept telling myself that pretend this is practice and to just try your best. Just focus on each ball, and the rest will take care of itself,” she said.

    “I don’t like to focus on the past [when she won the 2023 Australian Open]. Even if it comes to my mind, I try to remind myself it is a new day and you can do anything so just fight for it.”

    “It is the final [next], [and] it is going to be a great battle. It doesn’t matter who I face. I know I will go out there to do anything to win.”

    Sabalenka wins!

    Sabalenka starts well with a forehand down the right side to take the early lead, but a rare double fault from the 2023 Australian Open champion makes it 15-all.

    She responds with a powerful ace down the left side to make it 30-15 and just overhits an attempted forehand winner down the left to make it 30-all.

    Gauff gives Sabalenka a match point after sending her return into the net, but Gauff isn’t going anywhere as she survives a lengthy rally before delivering a forehand winner down the left side.

    Sabalenka holds her nerve to deliver another ace down the middle to take advantage.

    She seals the match with a strong serve down the right, which Gauff sends into the net.

    She’s made it to back-to-back finals!

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 6-4 Gauff

    Sabalenka breaks in crucial game

    An errant backhand return on the right side ties the game 15-all and then Sabalenka attacks Gauff’s second serve down the left side to take a 30-15 lead.

    Gauff delivers a second-serve ace out of Sabalenka’s reach, but the Belarusian produces a fierce sprinting backhand down the left side which is too good for the American.

    Gauff prevents the break point with a backhand winner down the left side to send the game to deuce but Sabalenka earns another break point after Gauff’s unforced error into the net.

    The defending champion now has an opportunity to serve for a place in the final.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 5-4 Gauff

    Sabalenka ties up set

    A pair of unforced errors gives Gauff a vital 0-30 lead, but Sabalenka fights back with a forehand down the left side to make it 15-30.

    Sabalenka places a lovely forehand winner down the left side to tie it up 30-all and roars back to a 40-30 lead with a strong forehand down the right.

    Gauff is unable to contain a deep backhand return as Sabalenka holds to tie up the set.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 4-4 Gauff

    Gauff holds to regain lead in second set

    Gauff goes long on her return to make it 0-15 but the American is unable to get to a powerful forehand from the Belarusian on the left side to make it 0-30.

    But Gauff picks up a point thanks to Sabalenka’s overhit return down the middle and ties it 30-30 with a cross-court volley winner down the right side.

    A deep return from Sabalenka gives her a precious break point opportunity, but Sabalenka overhits her return to send the game to deuce.

    Gauff takes advantage with a brilliant ace before Sabalenka’s unforced error into the net seals the game in her favour.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 3-4 Gauff

    Sabalenka holds to tie set

    Sabalenka wrong-foots Gauff with a backhand winner down the left side to make it 15-love and then Gauff’s attempted baseline return goes just long to give her a 30-0 lead.

    Sabalenka hits the net on her backhand to make it 30-15.

    A deep backhand lob from Gauff allows Sabalenka to come up to the net and unfurl a powerful overhead smash, which Gauff has no chance of returning to make it 40-15.

    Gauff’s attempted baseline return down the middle just misses the mark to allow Sabalenka to tie up the set.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 3-3 Gauff

    Gauff holds once more to take lead

    Gauff jumps to a 30-0 lead thanks to Sabalenka’s unforced errors and then follows it up with a 196 km/h (122mph) ace that leaves Sabalenka unmoved to make it 40-love.

    She takes the game after Sabalenka sends her forehand into the net.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 2-3 Gauff

    Sabalenka ties the set

    Gauff commits an unforced error on her backhand to give Sabalenka an early lead before another wide return on the left makes it 30-love.

    Sabalenka makes it 40-0 after Gauff fails to catch the baseline with her deep backhand return.

    In almost a carbon-copy of the previous service game, Sabalenka is able to sneak in a forehand volley down the left side to seal the game in her favour.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 2-2 Gauff

    Gauff holds to take early lead in second

    Gauff jumps to an early 30-0 lead with a lovely forehand winner down the right side.

    Sabalenka’s attempted backhand return on one knee finds the net to make it 40-love.

    The Belarusian ends up going long on her return down the left side to give Gauff a 2-1 edge in the second.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 1-2 Gauff

    Sabalenka ties up second set

    Sabalenka cruises in the second game to win all four points on the trot to tie up the second set.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 1-1 Gauff

    Gauff battles to take opening game

    Sabalenka uncorks a lovely backhand passing shot that Gauff is unable to get to, but the American responds with a 182km/h (113mph) ace to tie it up 15-all.

    Gauff makes it 30-15 but goes just long on an attempted lob over Sabalenka to make it 30-all. Sabalenka then surprises Gauff with a big return down the middle, which catches her off guard to make it 30-40. Sabalenka’s attempted backhand volley finds the net to send the game to deuce.

    The Belarusian uncorks a fierce forehand after Gauff approaches the net to take advantage, but Gauff resets the game to deuce with a 184km/h (114mph) ace down the right side.

    It is Gauff’s turn to take advantage after Sabalenka’s unforced backhand error, but she double-faults for a seventh time to send the game back to deuce.

    Gauff crushes a deep Sabalenka backhand lob down the left side to take advantage, but an eighth double fault once again gives Sabalenka a reprieve.

    Gauff shows precision with a drop shot that Sabalenka is unable to get to, once again taking advantage.

    An unforced backhand down the right side gives Gauff the opening match of the second set.

    Sabalenka 7-6 (7-2), 0-1 Gauff

    Sabalenka wins first set

    Sabalenka’s powerful backhand is just too good for Gauff for a 1-0 lead in the tiebreak.

    Sabalenka makes it 2-0 with a strong forehand down the left side and 3-0 as her backhand return sends Gauff to the ground after she trips on her return.

    Gauff just goes wide on the right to give Sabalenka a massive 4-0 lead but then earns a much-needed point for 4-1. Sabalenka gets to 6-1, and a second set point, with a powerful forehand winner.

    Gauff does not give up as she sends her opponent ragged before Sabalenka falters with an errant return to make it 6-2, but Sabalenka has the last laugh to deliver a strong serve for which Gauff has no answers.

    This is quite the turnaround from the Belarusian after looking fairly out of sorts in the opening set.

    Gauff will see this as a huge opportunity missed after fighting back from being down 2-5.

    First set goes to tiebreak

    Gauff races to a 30-0 lead with a delicate backhand winner down the left side but Sabalenka earns a reprieve after Gauff catches a return with the edge of her racquet to make it 30-15.

    Sabalenka soon squares it up 30-all, before making it 30-40 with a well-placed backhand which Gauff fails to lob back to her opponent.

    Gauff’s backhand return ends up long as this opening set is heading to a tiebreak.

    Sabalenka 6-6 Gauff

    Gauff breaks in crucial game

    Sabalenka takes the early lead, but Gauff uses her speed to good effect to send an overhead smash down the right side to tie it up 15-all.

    Gauff is unable to return a testing serve from her opponent to make it 30-15, but Sabalenka commits another unforced error to make it 30-all.

    Gauff overruns the ball as she tries to land a deep winner on the left side, but goes just long to make it 40-30.

    Sabalenka sends one wide down the right side to take the game to deuce and resets with an approach to the net which culminates in a forehand smash down the right side to take advantage. But a long return just right of centre takes it right back to deuce.

    Gauff earns a break point after Sabalenka sends her backhand past the baseline.

    Sabalenka errs with a forehand down the left side which goes long, and Gauff is now a game away from winning this set herself.

    The Belarusian is succumbing to the pressure out there, while Gauff is showing plenty of composure which belies her age.

    Sabalenka 5-6 Gauff

    Gauff holds to tie up set

    Sabalenka looks determined after losing some momentum in the last few games and fires in a deep forehand winner down the left side to take an early lead. However, she goes long on a backhand winner down the right to make it 15-all and then commits an unforced error on her backhand to give Gauff a 30-15 edge.

    A sixth double fault though allows Sabalenka to tie it up 30-all.

    Gauff fails to land a backhand winner down the right to give Sabalenka set point but she sends the game to deuce with a kick serve that climbs appreciably on Sabalenka as she fails to control it.

    The American then takes advantage after Sabalenka fails to land her return, but the Belarusian is not going to give it away as she unleashes a powerful forehand down the left side to send it back to deuce.

    A lengthy rally follows, with Sabalenka failing to land a volley down the right as she sends it into the net.

    Gauff tries to finish it off with a drop shot, but ends up just a bit short to send the game into a third deuce situation.

    Gauff fires a 201km/h ace which Sabalenka just gets her racquet to, but can’t do anything with it.

    She ties up the set five-all after Sabalenka commits yet another unforced error.

    Sabalenka 5-5 Gauff

    Gauff breaks to stay alive

    Gauff is showing some fight out there as a rally ends in a drop-shot exhibition, before the American lands a winner just beyond Sabalenka’s reach.

    But the Belarusian is able to square the game 15-all soon after.

    Sabalenka makes it 30-15 after approaching the net to land a forehand down the left side.

    Sabalenka errs on a backhand return down the right side to make it 30-all.

    She commits her first double fault to give Gauff a precious break point opportunity to get back on serve.

    The nerves are starting to get to her as she commits an unforced error into the net on her backhand to give Gauff a great chance at tying up this set.

    Gauff holds to extend opening set

    Gauff ends up on the winning end of a lengthy forehand rally to take the early lead.

    She makes it 30-0 soon after with a wonderful backhand winner, before Sabalenka deceives her on the right side with a powerful forehand of her own. Sabalenka lucks out after her backhand return – clips the net, and then lands in bounds to make it 30-all.

    Gauff gets an opportunity to approach the net before sending down a two-handed backhand winner on the left side.

    She wins the game with a forehand down the right to stay in this contest.

    Sabalenka 5-3 Gauff

    Sabalenka a game away from winning first set

    Gauff sends a backhand into the net to make it 15-all after Sabalenka took the early lead and then sends an accurate serve down the left side which Gauff is unable to rein in as the return is long.

    Sabalenka is in the ascendancy as she gets Gauff to commit an unforced error into the net on her backhand to make it 40-15.

    She finishes it off with a booming ace down the left side to be just one game away from winning this opening set.

    Sabalenka 5-2 Gauff

    Sabalenka breaks to go up 4-2

    After the game is tied 15-all, Sabalenka sends her forehand long to give the American a 30-15 edge.

    Gauff hasn’t quite nailed her serve though, as she commits a fourth double fault to make it 30-all, but responds with a powerful kick serve down the right that stretches Sabalenka to make it 40-30.

    The game is sent to deuce after yet another double fault from the American.

    Sabalenka secures break point with a powerful forehand down the left side which Gauff fails to latch on to.

    Sabalenka breaks her opponent after receiving a lob from the baseline, which gives her just the right amount of time to smash a winner down the left side.

    Sabalenka 4-2 Gauff

    Sabalenka regains lead

    Gauff fails to land a return down the left side to give Sabalenka the lead.

    Sabalenka jumps to a 40-0 lead and then finishes it off soon after to make it 3-2 in the opening set.

    Sabalenka 3-2 Gauff

    Gauff ties up set

    Sabalenka’s return is just a bit long and gives Gauff an early lead, but the American makes a double fault for the third time in the set to make it 15-15.

    Gauff unleashes a powerful 199km/h serve, which Sabalenka fails to control, and it’s 30-15.

    The American then toys with her opponent with a delicate drop shot to make her rush up the court, before placing a lob over her, which Sabalenka fails to reach.

    Gauff then delivers another 199km/h serve, for which Sabalenka has no answers as she ties up the set.

    Sabalenka 2-2 Gauff

    Gauff breaks Sabalenka

    Sabalenka mistimes another drop shot into the net to give Gauff the early lead.

    Gauff then capitalises with a brilliant backhand winner down the right side which is just too good for the Belarusian to make it 0-30.

    Sabalenka fails to land a high backhand volley, sending it into the net instead to make it 0-40.

    But she slowly creeps back after Gauff sends a return just beyond the baseline on the right side to make it 15-40.

    Gauff comes back to break Sabalenka after getting her to approach the net, before sending a deep winner past her opponent on the right side.

    Sabalenka 2-1 Gauff

    Sabalenka breaks Gauff

    Gauff double-faults twice to give Sabalenka an early 0-30 lead.

    They engage in a lengthy rally but the Belarusian sends a winner down the right to make it 0-40. Sabalenka gets a chance to finish off the game and earn a break but mistimes her drop shot into the net.

    But it doesn’t matter as Gauff commits an unforced error to give Sabalenka a decisive 2-0 lead in the opening set.

    Sabalenka 2-0 Gauff

    Sabalenka cruises to win opening game

    The world number two begins with a sublime ace to go 15-0 up.

    She then sends Gauff down the left side before finishing it off with a well-placed winner down the right to make it 30-0 and Gauff errs on her return to give Sabalenka a 40-0 jump in the opening game.

    It is a clean start for the Belarusian as Gauff goes long on her return down the right.

    Perfect start for Sabalenka!

    Sabalenka 1-0 Gauff

    Sabalenka to serve

    The Belarusian wins the toss and elects to serve first.

    It is definitely a sign of her confidence as she has been in terrific form this tournament.

    Match about to start

    Gauff and Sabalenka make their way out to the court to polite applause.

    The arena looks packed, so the atmosphere should be electric for this mouth-watering contest.

    Gauff looking to shake off quarterfinals form

    After not dropping a set in her first four matches, Gauff was made to work against world number 37, Marta Kostyuk, in the quarterfinals.

    The American managed just 15 winners while committing an eyebrows-raising 51 unforced errors.

    She also registered nine double faults during the three-hour encounter.

    Sabalenka will not be as forgiving as her previous opponents, so Gauff will need to up her game.

    Sabalenka hopes to repeat 2023 heroics

    This will forever be a special venue for the Belarusian star.

    Last year, she managed to beat Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in three sets to capture a maiden Grand Slam title.

    She will arguably be the favourite again today, especially after making it to the semifinals without dropping a single set.

    Gauff’s got nerves under control

    Speaking about her clash with Sabalenka, Gauff admitted she won’t find it easy to step into her second straight Grand Slam final.

    “Aryna, always a tough match with her. I think she’s playing well this tournament,” said Gauff, who believes her experience from the US Open could prove invaluable.

    “It does give me confidence knowing that at least in that stage of a Grand Slam my nerves are usually settled.”

    Gauff leads head-to-head record

    Gauff may be six years her opponent’s junior but she leads their head-to-head record with four wins from six meetings and knows she will have to raise her game if she is to reach the final.

    The 19-year-old struggled with her serve in her quarterfinal and was forced to fight her way back.

    A lot will depend on whether Gauff can get her service game back to where it was before the quarterfinal.

    Where’s Gauff’s dad?

    While Coco Gauff may not have any pre-match routines and superstitions as her opponent, we know Gauff senior won’t be in the stands tonight.

    Sabalenka keeping it cool

    Sabalenka is only the third woman to reach six consecutive Grand Slam semifinals since the turn of the century after Americans Jennifer Capriati and Serena Williams.

    The Belarusian baseliner was once famous for failing to master her emotions on court but the Sabalenka who has demolished all comers in Melbourne this year seems far more at ease with herself.

    Her social media feeds are filled with lighthearted moments, including an impromptu dance with her coaching staff during a practice session.

    “You know, I’m just playing point by point, and that’s it, and fighting for every point without overthinking about my dreams, about what I want to do, about how many Slams I want to win and all that stuff,” she said during the tournament.

    Levity aside she remains a formidable competitor, with the raw power to blow her opponents away from the back of the court.

    After her defeat at Flushing Meadows, Sabalenka made clear she wanted to ensure she was not a one-hit wonder.

    And in her current form, Gauff will be the underdog again.

    “It’s always great battles against Coco, with really great fights. I’m happy to play her, and I’m super-excited to play that semifinal match.”

    Battle of the majors winners

    Sabalenka (2) and Gauff (4) are the only majors winners and the only two in the top 10 of women’s singles seedings to be left in the draw.

    Number 12-seeded Zheng Qinwen will play Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska in the other semifinal. Neither Zheng nor Yastremska have been past the quarterfinals at a major before.

    Sabalenka’s viral warm-up routines

    Have you seen Sabalenka’s now-viral warm-up routines? There’s one where she places a bottle over her fitness coach Jason Stacy’s head and attempts to kick it. And another one where she signs his bald head.

    Novak Djokovic tried the kick but failed – it must be very hard to pull off!

    But Sabalenka says it worked for her after the first match and she has told Stacy to put up with it.

    “He’s not happy with it but he understands everything,” the second seed said after winning her third-round match.

    Gauff glad for ‘bad match’

    Meanwhile, Coco Gauff hopes she’s got her “bad match” out of the way at the tournament before meeting Sabalenka.

    Gauff is on a 12-match winning roll at the majors after rallying from 5-1 down in the first set to beat Marta Kostyuk 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-2 in a quarterfinal that lasted more than three hours.

    Gauff hadn’t dropped a set until she faced world number 37 Kostyuk.

    The American had 51 unforced errors, nine double-faults and just 17 winners in a match containing 16 service breaks.

    “Today was definitely a C game,” Gauff said after the match.

    “Didn’t play my best tennis, but really proud that I was able to get through. Hopefully got the bad match out of the way and I can play even better.”

    Sabalenka’s smooth sailing

    Sabalenka, world number two, was untouchable in a commanding 6-2, 6-3 quarterfinal victory over ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova in just 33 minutes.

    She has now reached a Grand Slam semifinal for the sixth consecutive time.

    The 25-year-old has dropped just 16 games so far at Melbourne Park.

    The Belarusian had won all seven of her previous Grand Slam quarterfinals coming into the Krejcikova clash and attributed her consistency to hard work.

    “A lot of hard work. I have been working so hard this last year and in pre-season. It’s all about hard work, give it all in the practice court so you are ready for the match,” she said.

    “I think my mindset is that I’m not getting crazy on court, I’m not rushing things,” she added.

    Rematch, revenge, rewind

    It’s been a little over four months since these two women met at Flushing Meadows, New York in the US Open final.

    That September night at Arthur Ashe saw Gauff produce a gutsy performance to win 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and six minutes for her first Grand Slam title.

    Sabalenka was left in tears as the teenager delighted the home crowd.

    Will revenge be on the 25-year-old’s mind? You can bet on it!

    “I love it. I love it,” Sabalenka said before the showdown with Gauff, making no attempt to hide what she’s after tonight.

    “After US Open, I really wanted that revenge, and, I mean, that’s a great match.”


    Hello, welcome and thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the first women’s singles semifinal of the 2024 Australian Open!

    In a tournament full of surprises and upsets, our two semifinalists for today’s match have risen to the top without any major blips.

    Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka will hold on tightly to her crown that she won here at the Rod Laver Arena a year ago, but US Open champion Coco Gauff will have other plans.

    It’s set up to be a classic.

    The match is set to begin at 7:30pm local time (08:30 GMT).

    I’m Rohan Sharma here at Al Jazeera and I will bring you all the build-up, pre-match comments and live commentary from Melbourne Park.

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