Elena Sabalenka, who has lost her three previous Grand Slam semi-finals, said this year’s Australian Open felt different after reaching the final four on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old fifth seed beat Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 to secure her spot in the semifinals, where she will face unseeded Pole Magda Linette.
Sabalenka won the Adelaide International ahead of the Melbourne Open, which means she has won her last nine matches without dropping a set.
Wednesday’s win lifted Sabalenka’s Grand Slam quarterfinal record to 4-0, but her major semifinal record is a different story, currently 0-3, although she has won all three. played the first set.
Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of the US Open last year, losing to top seed and eventual champion Iga Swiyakek. The Belarusian also reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows in 2021, losing to unseeded Canadian Leila Fernandez, who lost to eighth-seeded Carolina Pooley in the 2021 Wimbledon semi-finals Scova.
“I feel a little bit different,” Sabalenka told reporters. “I think I lost those three semi-finals just because I wasn’t calm on the pitch.
“I overdid it. I really wanted to get this slam. I was in a hurry. I was nervous. Screaming, doing all these things.
“Right now, I’m a little bit calmer on the court. I really believe that’s the only thing that’s missing in my game. If I can stay focused and calm on the court, I can get through it.
“I just feel like I believe in myself more. I think that’s a huge difference.”
The mighty Sabalenka used her forehand brilliantly against Vekic to score 38 winners, while keeping her cool and saving 12 of her 14 break points.
Asked how she was staying focused, she added: “I just want to look at the situation from the top and see, for example, I’m about to take a break, and even if she’s going to bring me down, nothing bad going to happen. You’re going to continue Keep up the good service.
“I’m just trying to see the situation from a vantage point, trying to relax, trying to think about what I have to do.”
Sabalenka’s run to the Australian Open semi-finals created the chance for her compatriot Victoria Azarenka to reach another semi-final in the first-ever all-Belarusian Grand Slam final, where she will face Wimbledon Tennis Open champion Elena Rybakina.
“I really want it to happen,” she said. “I know Vika will do everything in her power to make it happen. I will do my best to make it happen.
“It’s going to be history. It’s going to be unbelievable, and it’s hard to realize that this is actually happening.
“It’s going to be huge. It’s going to help other kids understand that they can do well in this sport, that they can be top players.”