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Coco Gauff bounced by Aryna Sabalenka in Australian Open semis

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 25: Coco Gauff of United States reacts during the Semi-Final match at the Australian Open grand slam tennis tournament at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia on January 25, 2024. (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Aryna Sabalenka promised revenge, and she delivered against Coco Gauff on Thursday.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open defending champion, avenged a US Open final loss to Gauff to become the first woman since Serena Williams to reach back-to-back finals at the Australian Open.

The Belarusian hit 33 winners in her 7-6(2), 6-4 victory that extended her winning streak at Melbourne Park to 13 matches.

“It was an incredible match,” Sabalenka said. “She’s a great player, always tough battles against her. I think the key was that I was able to stay focused no matter what, no matter what the score was, I just keep trying my best, keep fighting for it… It’s one more to go, and I’ll do my best.”

Sabalenka will play Zheng Qinwen in the championship on Saturday.

For Gauff, it was a disappointing showing. She had entered the semifinals unbeaten in 2024 and on a 12-match winning streak in majors. The loss comes after she went to three sets against Marta Kostyuk.

Similar to that match, Gauff was down in the first set but rallied from down 5-2 to take a 6-5 lead. This time, however, she was unable to take the first-set win. And from there, things continued to not go her way.

“Tough match for me tonight. Overall a positive tournament,” Gauff said. “I had chances in both sets, but she played better tonight. I think it just came down to a couple of points, and that’s tennis.

“At this stage in any tournament, but especially a Grand Slam, whether I lost 6-1, 6-1, or like I did today, or in a third-set tiebreak, I still think it would hurt just as much.”