Aryna Sabalenka vs. Victoria Azarenka


Aryna Sabalenka dares to dream.

After a comprehensive win against Donna Vekic, the 25-year-old Belarusian is just two wins away from her first grand slam title.

Sabalenka is no stranger to the semi-final stage of grand slam tournaments, with Thursday’s meeting with unseeded Pole Magda Linette set to be the fourth grand slam semi of her career.

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While players are often hesitant to look too far ahead, a tantalizing prospect is proving too hard to ignore for the No. 5 seed: a possible all-Belarusian final against Victoria Azarenka.

“I really want it to happen,” Sabalenka said after her quarterfinal victory.

“I know Vika will do everything she can to make it happen. I will do everything to make it happen.

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“That’s going to be history. That’s going to be just as incredible and hard to realize that it (could) actually happen.”

Sabalenka being in the semifinals isn’t the biggest surprise, but Azarenka, the No. 24 seed, stunned everyone with a magical run that came a decade after the second of her two. Australian Open titles

Match Highlights: Aryna Sabalenka v Donna Vekic

The Belarusian pair were two of a number of players forced to play without their flag at the Australian Open because of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Both Azarenka and Sabalenka were among the players who were left shattered when they were banned from Wimbledon last year. Sabalenka has already expressed his dissatisfaction with being forced to play under a neutral flag in Melbourne Park, and opened on the effect of the two bans.

“I would say of course it affects me a lot,” she said.

“It was tough there (at Wimbledon) and it’s still tough. But I just understand that it’s not my fault. Like, I have zero control.

How Azarenka overcame “fear”, “anxiety”

“If I could do something, of course I would, but there’s nothing I can do.”

So just what would an all-Belarusian final mean to little kids watching back in Minsk, as Sabalenka once did when she was inspired by the likes of Serena Williams?

“What can I say? I don’t really know what to say, to be honest,” she said.

“It’s just going to be huge. I think this is going to help other kids understand that they can do well in this sport, they can be top players.”

The dream is one victory away.

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