MADRID: World number two Aryna Sabalenka brushed past Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Madrid Open on Thursday to set up a potential second straight final showdown with top ranked Iga Swiatek.
Sabalenka and Sakkari’s ninth meeting on tour and first on clay ended with the 24-year-old Belarusian extending her win-loss record over the Greek ninth seed to 6-3.
Sabalenka, who was champion in Madrid in 2021, stayed on track for her second title of the season in style after winning the Australian Open in January.
She won an impressive 70.7 per cent of her first serve points and saved five of six break points while sending down four aces against Sakkari.
The Belarusian will next face the winner of Swiatek or Russian Veronika Kudermetova in Saturday’s final.
TSITSIPAS KNOCKED OUT
In men’s singles, world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas crashed out following a 7-6(5) 5-7 6-3 defeat by Germany’s lucky loser Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals.
In-form Struff will next face qualifier Aslan Karatsev on Friday as both reached their first Masters 1000 semi-final, the Russian doing so by beating China’s Zhang Zhizhen 7-6(3) 6-4 earlier on Thursday.
In the other semi-final, world number two Carlos Alcaraz will be looking to celebrate his 20th birthday with a win against Croatian 17th seed Borna Coric.