Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, March 15, 2023


World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka slammed Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-0 to improve to 16-1 and storm into her first Indian Wells semifinal.

Photo credit: Robert Prange/Getty

Reclamation projects inspire passion play in Aryna Sabalenka.

Rebuilding her serve and reconstructing her confidence, Sabalenka is now delighting in demolition, too.

Medvedev: Take One Pain Killer, Go Play

Unleashing her wrecking ball serve, Sabalenka crushed Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-0 charging into her first Indian Wells semifinal.

The Australian Open champion broke to open and spent the rest of this 65-minute thrashing dominating on serve.

Sabalenka served 73 percent, slammed 5 aces against no double faults, won 26 of 30 first-serve points and did not face a break point beating Gauff for the first time since the 2020 Ostrava.

The second-seeded Sabalenka isn't just beating opponents, she's dismantling them. Sabalenka raised her 2023 record to 16-1.

Winning her maiden major in Melbourne has inspired major maturity in Sabalenka.

"I think I'm more calm on court, and I'm able to control my emotions, which help me to stay in the game no matter what," Sabalenka said. "And just fight for every point, without losing my mind and without giving like easy points to opponents."

Continuing her quest for her third title of the season, Sabalenka will face either two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova or 2022 Indian Wells finalist Maria Sakkari in the semifinals.

Tennis Express

The sixth-seeded Gauff fell to 14-4 on the season and will try to rebound at next week's Miami Open where she earned her first WTA Tour main-draw win back in 2019.

The Belarusian power player has not dropped a set reaching her third semifinal of the season and has been so oppressive she's surrendered just five sets all season.

After sending the lone American woman left standing packing, Sabalenka had some fun with the pro-Gauff crowd as well.

"I knew guys you want to send me home, I know," Sabalenka told Andrew Krasny and fans in her on-court interview. "It was a tough match, she's a great player, just super happy with the win.

"Thank you everyone for coming supporting us, mostly her, but us. The atmosphere was unbelievable. I don't want to leave I want to stay here as long as I can to enjoy the atmosphere."

Though Gauff carried a 3-1 career edge over the former Wimbledon semifinalist onto court, Sabalenka was armed with a blistering serve and bold ball-striking off both wings.

The woman whose spasmodic serve was such a mess last January, she was averaging 16 double faults through her first six matches, has streamlined her serve, sharpened her baseline attack and solidified her status as a Grand Slam champion who wants more.

Bombing drives into both corners, Sabalenka stormed through eight of the first 10 points confirming the opening break for 2-0.

"Obviously I think the biggest [improvement] is her serve," Gauff said of Sabalenka. "We already knew she had a great serve but the double faults less, and then her consistency has gotten a lot better. I think that I need to improve on the def.

"I think I hit a lot of balls shorter, especially like later in the rally so she was able to kind of hit me off the court."

Surging to that fast start not only quieted Gauff's all-court attack it completely muted the crowd.

"I was thinking about that I have to put so much pressure on her from the beginning to make sure that she's not gonna feel that rush from the people and she's not gonna start like playing unbelievable tennis," Sabalenka told Tennis Channel's Prakash Amritraj. "So I was thinking don't give her that power.

"I'm glad that I could put so much pressure on her from the beginning and this gave me a lot more, I would say, advantage in the match."

Eleven minutes into the match, Gauff dodged another break point when her backhand crashed into the tape and plopped over, eluding a charging Sabalenka. Gauff fought through her first hold for 1-2.

Throwing down first serves with menacing intentions, Sabalenka served with command in the opening set.

The second seed served 81 percent, pumped 3 aces against no double faults and won 17 of 21 first-serve points in an assertive 40-minute opening set.

Trying to combat the Belarusians baseline blasts, Gauff was sometimes countering off her back foot.

The Roland Garros finalist struggled to gain traction in her service games as Sabalenka sped through eight of the first nine points seizing a 2-0 second-set lead.

The big-hitting Belarusian bullied Gauff around the court converting her third break point to break again for a one set, 3-0 lead.


Latest News