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Sabalenka Into Australian Open SFs, Linette Stuns Pliskova; Azarenka v Rybakina

The women’s semifinals are set at the Australian Open. Wednesday in Melbourne, the last two quarterfinals were contested and both ended in straight sets.

Karolina Pliskova was stunned by little-known journeywoman Magda Linette 6-3, 7-5.

The 30-year-old Linette took advantage of six double faults and 36 total unforced errors off the racquet of Pliskova to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal.

“Maybe I still don’t really believe it,” said Linette.

The 45th-ranked Linette had never even been past the third round at a Grand Slam, but has shown the poise of a seasoned champion. She has upset four straight seeds winning her last eight sets.

“I think I did really well not to panic and still stay in the rally and go for the shots when I had the chance,” Linette added. “That was, I think, something I did the best.”

Linette keeps the Polish flag flying after Iga Swiatek fell a few days ago. She will have to pull off another huge upset on Thursday night. She’ll now face the world No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka.

“I will just try what I’m doing this whole week,” Linette said. “I’m being very consistent, returning really well, and keeping my serves. I think she will be, you know, just a little bit more consistent version of being aggressive on every single shot. I will just need to serve really well again.

“I will try to do my best on the return, and I have been doing that pretty well the last two matches, especially when the opponent was kind of similar.”

No woman has been better than Sabalenka who comes into her first Australian Open semifinal in one of her best runs. Sabalenka eased past Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 to up her current win streak to nine and set run to 18 straight.

“Here it feels really special to be in the semifinals,” said Sabalenka. “I definitely love this place.”

“I’m super happy with the win,” she said. “Was a tough match…she’s a great player and it’s always tough to play against her.”

Sabalenka had lost five of six to Vekic but the Croatian donated 13 double and finished just 2/14 on break chances.

“My serve is one of my biggest weapons, so if that’s not working, it’s very tough out there, especially against her, who is not giving you any easy points, easy shots,” said Vekic who was in her second Slam quarterfinal. “I think that’s why maybe also I felt a little bit more pressure, because I knew if I didn’t have a great serve, that she’s going to crush it.

“That could be one of the reasons, as well. I mean, with her, you cannot really count on building the point, staying in the rallies, working your way up. If you don’t have good first shot, you’re in trouble.”

Sabalenka has won both career meetings with Linette.

In the earlier night semifinal, 2-time champion Victoria Azarenka will face Wimbledon queen Elena Rybakina. Rybakina beat Azarenka in their only meeting last year at Indian Wells. Azarenka won the Australian Open 10 years ago after going back-to-back in 2012-2013.

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