- By Jonathan Jurejko
- BBC Sport at Melbourne Park
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-28 January
Coverage: Commentary from 08:00 GMT on Tennis Breakfast on Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sounds, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the BBC Sport website and app
Aryna Sabalenka remains on track to defend her Australian Open crown after reaching the Melbourne final by avenging her defeat by Coco Gauff in last year’s US Open showpiece.
Belarusian second seed Sabalenka won 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 against American fourth seed Gauff in a tense semi-final.
Both were edgy in an error-strewn first set with six breaks before Sabalenka pounced decisively late in the second.
Sabalenka will face Zheng Qinwen or Dayana Yastremska in Saturday’s final.
Chinese 12th seed Zheng and Ukrainian qualifier Yastremska contest the second semi-final at Melbourne Park later on Thursday.
Sabalenka holds nerve to comes through toughest test yet
Anticipation for the contest between Sabalenka and Gauff at the opening Grand Slam of the season was high.
Both players had been impressive as they worked their way through the draw, setting up a rematch of their thrilling US Open final which Gauff edged to claim her first major title.
Sabalenka had been particularly dominant and, after showing resilience to recover from sticky spells against Gauff, still has not dropped a set over the past fortnight.
The 25-year-old Belarusian unleashed her explosive game on Gauff from the start, cracking 33 winners in a high-octane demonstration of her power.
While Sabalenka’s erratic style still often leads to errors, she seems more at ease at Melbourne Park this fortnight having the experience of lifting her first major title here.
Now, after keeping her composure to serve out victory, she is the first woman to reach back-to-back finals here since Serena Williams in 2017.
“I think I was able to focus on myself and I was prepared for her moving really good and putting every ball back,” said Sabalenka.
“I had to be ready to make an extra shot and I was ready for tonight.”