Gauff & Sabalenka To Fight For More Than Spot In Australian Open Final

Gauff & Sabalenka To Fight For More Than Spot In Australian Open Final

by Nurein Ahmed

The semifinal showdown between defending champion Aryna Sabalenka and fourth seed Coco Gauff is already billed as the biggest match of this brand-new season.

And you can't dispute that. It has been an Australian Open tournament that has served as a telling reminder that nothing can be taken for granted in the women's tournament, with the number of top seeds dropping in overwhelming numbers.

Second seed Sabalenka and fourth seed Gauff have survived the onslaught. The Belarusian has been the tournament's best player. She has put together one polished performance after another almost as if serving notice to the field that she is not ready to relinquish her crown.

In five matches to the semifinal, Sabalenka has not dropped a set. She has lost a paltry of 16 games so far, and has not ceded more than three games in a single set. Such has been her brutal dominace. Sabalenka has steadily risen to the occasion.

Gauff has closely followed as the second-best player at this year's Australian Open. She reached her first semifinal Down Under and emulated Maria Sharapova by becoming the second teenager this century to win at least 12 Grand Slam matches in a row.

The young American dropped her only set at the championships against the rapidly improving Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in the quarterfinal. Gauff prevailed in the longest Grand Slam match of her career, which clocked a little over three hours, and was critical of her performance.

Thursday's clash pits not just the two highest remaining seeds at the tournament for a spot in the final but also the World No. 2 ranking. Currently, it is Sabalenka who owns that spot. It is impossible for her to pass Iga Swiatek even with the Pole's early exit.

However, the Belarusian faces additional pressure to keep her No. 2 ranking. Gauff has never been ranked higher than third, so there is an added incentive approaching this match with less than 500 points separating them in the live rankings.


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