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Aryna Sabalenka Flies Into Second Straight US Open Semifinal

Aryna Sabalenka beat Karolina Pliskova to reach the US Open semifinals for the second straight year. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Unrelenting drives and an unbreakable serve powered Aryna Sabalenka to a US Open semifinal return.

Channeling her crackling power with precise placement, Sabalenka swept Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 7-6(4) to storm into her second straight US Open semifinal.

Banned from Wimbledon in June along with Russian players and Belarusian compatriots, Sabalenka overwhelmed Pliskova today avenging her 2021 Wimbledon semifinal defeat to the Czech power player.

A dynamic Sabalenka did not face a single break point and tripled Pliskova’s winner output—30 to 10—improving to 3-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinals.

The last time Sabalenka won five matches in a row was at the 2021 US Open where she surged to the semifinals bowing to Leylah Fernandez in three sets. Sabalenka is back in the New York groove now raising her US Open record to 15-4.

Asked why she’s been so successful on the fast Flushing Meadows courts, Sabalenka offered a one-word response: “People.” 

Continuing her quest for a maiden major final, Sabalenka will face either world No. 1 Iga Swiatek or eighth-seeded American Jessica Pegula in the semifinals.

Two-time Roland Garros champion Swiatek is 3-1 lifetime vs. Sabalenka sweeping the last six sets they’ve played. Sabalenka has won three of four meeting vs. Pegula with the American winning their lone hard-court clash at the 2020 Cincinnati played in Flushing Meadows.

“Both tough opponents, of course its semifinal, it’s gonna be tough,” Sabalenka told ESPN’s Rennae Stubbs afterward. “I’m ready for it. I’m ready for another fight.

“I think I have to stay focused on myself, do whatever I can and do my best and be ready for a great battle.”

This is an explosive and somewhat calmer Sabalenka than we’ve seen recently. Maybe that’s because Sabalenka knows her tournament could have ended in round two. The sixth-seeded Sabalenka faced near competitive death in the second round and now stands two wins from her first Grand Slam championship. Sabalenka recovered from a 2-6, 1-5 deficit and denied two match points rallying past Kaia Kanepi 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 in a gripping second-round win.

In recent years, Sabalenka’s serve has been both menacing weapon and booming betrayal shot as double faults piled up. Sabalanka says reconstructing her service motion and adopting a simple approach to serve has made all the difference during this US Open run.

Instead of trying to squeeze serves close to the lines at crunch time, Sabalenka says she’s focusing on swinging freely at big targets in the box. 

“I would say that I completely changed my motion,” Sabalenka said. “My toss was too far in front and I was trying to hit the ball so hard without spin.

“Right now, I’m not going for aces just put my serve in big targets and just play the point.”