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By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, October 24, 2020

Ostrava's Sunday final shapes up as a fierce Belarusian battle.

No. 3-seeded Aryna Sabalenka stopped Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-4 in the J&T Banka Ostrava Open semifinals setting up the WTA’s first all-Belarusian final against Victoria Azarenka.

More: Sabalenka Streaks Through Ostrava Comeback

In today's first semifinal, US Open finalist Azarenka flew through 10 of the first 11 games dispatching Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-3 soaring into her 40th career final.

Contesting her fourth quarterfinal in her last five events, Azarenka came out striking the ball with conviction and banging her backhand down the line with accuracy.

Azarenka served 82 percent and saved seven of eight break points she faced in a one hour, 37-minute victory.

The former world No. 1 has looked revitalized since the WTA Tour resumed last summer. The second oldest player in the WTA Top 20 scored her 18th win in her last 21 matches. Azarenka will play for her 22nd career title tomorrow.

The third-seeded Sabalenka pulled off one of the most inspired comebacks of the season yesterday. Looking dazed and confused after dropping 10 straight games to open her quarterfinal, Sabalenka stormed through 12 consecutive games rallying past Sara Sorribes Tormo on Friday.

Knowing she needed to play assertive tennis from the first ball against US Open semifinalist Brady, Sabalenka brought the firre and desire in today's second semifinal.

Hammering her drives with ambition, Sabalenka streaked through 10 straight points, including backing a love break with a love hold, for a 5-1 lead.

Tennis Express

World No. 26 Brady answered with a run of her own. Brady won 12 of 14 points closing the gap to 3-5. Sabalenka quited the uprising serving out the opening set with her second love hold.

Sabalenka broke to start the second set and backed up the break at 15 for 2-0.

The Sabalenka serve-forehand combination was key to the match. Sabalenka smacked 22 winners, saved five of six break points and permitted just six points on her second serve improving to 23-10 on the season.

The 12th-ranked Sabalenka is playing for her second title of the season and first since Doha last February.

In their most recent clash at the US Open in August, Azarenka swept Sabalenka 6-1, 6-3 avenging a three-set Flushing Meadows first-round loss in 2019. This will be the third meeting between the compatriots.


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