It was a final before its time. Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka defeated American Coco Gauff in the semi-final of the Australian Open on Thursday January 25. The world number 2, who had not had to work so far in the competition, qualified in two tight sets (7-6, 6-4), and 1 hour 42 minutes of play. Title holder, the 25-year-old reached a Grand Slam final for the third time in her career.

The two players had not faced each other since the final of the US Open, won by Coco Gauff, in September 2023. “I really wanted this revenge,” declared Aryna Sabalenka, after her victory in the quarter-final , against the Czech Barbora Krejcikova (6-2, 6-3).

The Belarusian, who said she was “impatient” to do battle, set the tone from the start. Aggressive very early in the exchanges, she did not let her opponent breathe, who showed responsiveness. If Coco Gauff remained impassive, without any reaction between the rallies won and lost, Aryna Sabalenka – who was playing in her sixth consecutive Grand Slam semi-final – let her frustration explode after her unforced errors, which occurred most of the time during points important.

Powerful Sabalenka

In the first set, the American had difficulty serving, committing six double faults. The world number 2 took the opportunity to offer herself a tie-break, while her opponent served to win the set. In this decisive game, Coco Gauff fell, without seriousness. She gave a thumbs up, a sign that everything was okay.

The fact remains that on the court, she saw herself overwhelmed by the aggressiveness of Aryna Sabalenka. When winning the first set, however, the latter did not celebrate, probably having in mind their last confrontation, where she lost despite having won the first set.

Coco Gauff was not far from breaking at the start of the second round. In the first game, the Belarusian missed a break point, hitting a ball with her foot in frustration. Her rival resisted, shouting in rage towards her coach when saving her throw. Aryna Sabalenka dispatched her service games, while Coco Gauff was in difficulty on each of them. She gave in at 4-4, offering the second round to her opponent on a plateau.

Under the eyes of six-time Wimbledon winner Billie Jean King, Sabalenka’s power got the better of the world number 4. In the final, she awaits the winner of the match between the Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska, from qualifying, and the Chinese Qinwen Zheng, seeded number 12.