Overpowering: Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus celebrates a point in her quarter-final victory over American Coco Gauff at Indian Wells
Indian Wells (United States) (AFP) - Aryna Sabalenka, still building on her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, overpowered Coco Gauff to reach semi-finals at the Indian Wells WTA and ATP Masters 1000 on Wednesday as Frances Tiafoe led the way into the men’s semis.
Sabalenka, ranked second in the world, roared past Gauff 6-4, 6-0, turning the tables on a player who had won three of their four prior encounters.
Sabalenka was in full command of her serve, and her thunderous ground strokes left Gauff with few options.
The Belarusian fired five aces and a total of 18 winners, closing out the match without facing a break point with three straight unreturnable serves.
She said she’s a different player than she was when she lost to Gauff in Toronto last year – and since she won her second title of the year at the Australian Open.
“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, and just fight for every point, without losing my mind and without giving like easy points to opponents,” Sabalenka said.
Certainly nothing was easy for 19-year-old Gauff on Wednesday. She fired half a dozen aces, 12 winners in all, but under intense pressure applied by Sabalenka had 14 more unforced errors than her opponent.
“You can definitely see the improvement since the last time I played her,” Gauff said. “I think the biggest one is her serve. We already knew she had a great serve but she double faults less, and then her consistency has gotten a lot better.”
Sabalenka will face a battle-tested opponent for a place in the final in either two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova or last year’s runner-up Maria Sakkari.
Sakkari has been taken to three sets in all three of her matches so far while Kvitova saved four match points in her fourth-round win over third-ranked Jessica Pegula.
- One-way traffic -
Tiafoe was similarly dominant in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over 2021 Indian Wells winner Cameron Norrie, who beat Carlos Alcaraz to win the title in Rio de Janeiro last month.
The 25-year-old American, in search of a second ATP title, reached his first Masters 1000 semi-final and made it clear he’s looking further than the final four.
“It’s great, but it’s the semis,” Tiafoe said. “The job’s not done.”
Tiafoe, who has reached the semis without dropping a set, was pleased with his day’s work against Norrie, who was on an eight-match win streak.
He had broken Norrie twice in the second set to serve for the match at 5-2.
American Frances Tiafoe serves in his quarter-final victory over Britain's Cameron Norrie at Indian Wells
He was broken himself, but made no mistake on hs next opportunity as he finished it off with a love game.
“I am really happy,” Tiafoe said. “I feel like when I am there mentally, I am one of the best players in the world.
“At the end, it got a little tricky, but it was pretty one-way traffic and I am really happy with where my game is at.”
Tiafoe awaits the winner of the quarter-final clash between Daniil Medvedev and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain.
Russia’s Medvedev, ranked sixth in the world, is through to the quarters at Indian Wells for the first time and riding a 17-match ATP win streak after titles at Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai in three consecutive weeks.