Aryna Sabalenka has sent local hope Coco Gauff packing in the Indian Wells quarter-finals after a ruthless display against her American opponent. The Australian Open champion stormed into the semi-finals of the hard court tournament courtesy of a thoroughly dominant 6-4, 6-0 victory.
Sabalenka remains on track for her third title in 2023, having claimed the Adelaide International alongside her maiden grand slam singles title at Melbourne Park. The Belarusian has been in superb form this year and underlined her class by dispatching the 19-year-old in just 64 minutes, with Gauff failing to win a single game in the second set.
The Belarusian had five aces and a total of 18 winners, didn't face a single break point and closed out the match with three consecutive un-returnable serves. It was an unrelenting exhibition of serving from the Belarusian that left Gauff with no answers and tennis fans in awe of the 24-year-old's power game.
Aryna Sabalenka defeats Coco Gauff in two sets (6-4 6-0) and reaches the semifinals in Indian Wells.
16-1 in 2023, 13 wins in straight, third bagel of the season. pic.twitter.com/PpOVnRpqad
— Relevant Tennis (@RelevantTennis) March 15, 2023
sabalenka was brutal tonight, she’s been playing her best tennis
— 𝓃 (@kordeivibing) March 15, 2023
Dominant win from Sabalenka against Gauff.
— gwongfit (@gwongfit) March 15, 2023
— Shukri Abdullah 🍔 (@shukriabdullah) March 15, 2023
Sabalenka might be about to bagel Coco
Playing absolutely lights out tennis. Brutal and brilliant
— Autistic Tennis Fan (@AutisticTennis) March 15, 2023
It's just beautiful and brutal ball-striking from Sabalenka at this point.#BNPParibasOpen
— Nihit (@nihitsachdeva28) March 15, 2023
"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."
Aryna Sabalenka on track for third title of 2023
Sabalenka's victory sets up a semi-final showdown against the winner of Thursday's (AEDT) quarter-final between two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and last year's Indian Wells runner-up, Maria Sakkari. The Belarusian 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. In contrast to Sabalenka's barnstorming run to the last-four, both of her potential semi-final opponents have done it much tougher.
Seventh-ranked Sakkari has needed three sets in all of her matches so far at Indian Wells while Kvitova saved four match points in her fourth-round win over World No.3 Jessica Pegula. Regardless, Sabalenka concedes she's wary of the threat that both women pose. She trails Kvitova 3-2 in career head-to-heads, and has lost the last two matches played against Sakkari, despite holding a 4-3 record over the Greek.
"It's always tough battles against [Kvitova and Sakkari]," Sabalenka said. "I think it's going to be long rallies because of the court. I think if I'll be able to bring my best tennis and I will be able to stay focused from the beginning until the end, I think, yeah, I can get this win."
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