By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, January 23, 202
Slam streaks collide when Coco Gauff faces Aryna Sabalenka within the Australian Open semifinals.
US Open champion Gauff rides a 12-match main profitable streak into this rematch of the US Open closing.
Australian Open champion Sabalenka has rocketed by the draw hovering on a 12-match Melbourne Park profitable streak.
Tennis is a numbers recreation, however Sabalenka is powered by a primal pressure of their rematch: revenge.
After sweeping 2021 Roland Garros singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-2, 6-3 to succeed in her sixth straight Slam semifinal, Sabalenka mentioned she’s in a vendetta temper vs. Gauff.
“I adore it. I adore it,” Sabalenka mentioned of her shot at Gauff. “After US Open, I actually wished that revenge, and, I imply, that is an ideal match.
“It is at all times nice battles in opposition to Coco, with actually nice fights. I am glad to play her, and I am tremendous excited to play that semifinal match.”
4 months in the past, Gauff hit a backhand bolt sealing her maiden Grand Slam title with gripping 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 conquer second-seeded Sabalenka within the US Open closing.
A dynamic Gauff bounced again from a jittery opening set, slashing by 5 straight video games to grab the second set and snatch a 4-0 lead within the third turning the biggest Grand Slam stadium within the sport into a large home get together with greater than 23,000 screaming followers relishing the trip.
This time, Gauff will not have the pro-American crowd on her aspect; followers determine to be extra evenly break up.
Forward of the blockbuster semifinal rematch, Sabalenka urged she’s going to attempt to be extra affected person setting up factors realizing Gauff, the quickest girl within the recreation, can run down would-be winners and reply with counter-strikes.
“She’s shifting very well. All the things you do on courtroom it is coming again,” Sabalenka mentioned of Gauff. “So you have to construct the purpose most likely couple occasions in a single level, like, to have that, not like simple shot, however, like — yeah, simple shot, you realize, to complete the purpose.
“In order that’s why she’s actually robust opponent. Yeah, however anyway, yeah, she’s an ideal participant, and I am actually excited to play her.”
The second-seeded Belarusian has had a smoother path to this semifinal.
Sabalenka has not surrendered a set and dropped simply 16 whole video games turning into the primary defending champion since Serena Williams in 2016 to succeed in the AO semifinals.
In distinction, Gauff dropped 15 video games and fought off two set factors in a tense and typically sloppy 7-6(6), 6-7(3), 6-2 conquer proficient and temperamental Marta Kostyuk.
Nonetheless, two-time Auckland champion Gauff, who spit up 9 double faults and gained simply 39 p.c of her second-serve factors in opposition to Kostyuk, believes her problem-solving ability might help her subdue the typically flamable Sabalenka.
“I feel for me positively my motion,” Gauff mentioned when requested her strengths. “When my serve is on, I feel my serve is a giant weapon for me. Similar with returns. I did not return that properly immediately, however normally I do properly with that.
“I feel simply my psychological power. I feel that is gotten me by a variety of matches, and I really feel like mentally I am one of many strongest on the market, and I attempt my finest to reset after every level. Yeah, I feel these are my strengths that I can consider proper off the highest of my head.”
Photograph credit score: Tim Clayton/Getty