World No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka held off Marketa Vondrousova to book her place in the Adelaide International semifinals on Friday in a boost to her Australian Open preparations.
The Belarusian overcame hot conditions to dismiss her Czech opponent 6-3, 7-5 in 1hr 34mins to continue her strong 2022 late-season form where she finished runner-up at the WTA Finals. The second seed’s reward is a last-four clash with Russian World No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova or Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu.
“It was a tough match and she fought until the end and I was really happy I was able to win this match,” Sabalenka, who is yet to win a Grand Slam, said.
ALSO READ - Pegula stuns tearful Swiatek as U.S. takes charge of United Cup semifinal
“I think because I’m staying really calm and I feel like I’m at home here, that’s why I play really well. I haven’t dropped a set yet. Hopefully I’ll keep going like that.”
Sabalenka broke for 3-2 in the first set and closed the set out on her 15th winner. A double break in the second set put her 4-1 ahead before Vondrousova battled back, only to be denied as the Belarusian regrouped to take the match.
The Australian Open starts in less than two weeks.
Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka was the first of the men into the final four, outlasting Australian Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (8/10), 6-2 to continue his storming early season form, having already upset World No. 11 Holger Rune. It set up a semifinal with American Sebastian Korda, who defeated Italy’s Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-1.
Top seed Novak Djokovic’s bid for a 92nd career title and first in Adelaide since 2007 ramps up when he locks horns with seventh seed Denis Shapovalov in an evening clash. The Canadian has failed to beat his Serbian rival in seven previous attempts, with the pair last meeting in the Wimbledon semis in 2021.
Whoever wins will face either third seeded Daniil Medvedev or fellow Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov for a place in the final.
Women’s top seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia plays Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk later on Friday with the winner facing either Czech teen Linda Noskova or two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka.