WTA Tashkent: Sabalenka and Babos advance to SF in rain-interrupted day


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WTA Tashkent: Sabalenka and Babos advance to SF in rain-interrupted day

19-year-old Aryna Sabalenka is playing her only 4th WTA tournament in a career and she already reached the semi-final after a hard-fought 7-6 3-6 6-1 triumph over Kateryna Kozlova in 2 hours and 8 minutes. Sabalenka served at 54%, she had 9 aces and 8 double faults and she made the difference with her first serve. She had to play against 9 break points, losing serve 4 times, and she was a little bit better on the return, winning 45% of the points in Kozlova's game and scoring 5 breaks from 13 opportunities.

Aryna saved more energy for the final set, playing better in the crucial moments to powers her way into the semis. They traded 4 breaks in succession in the middle of the opening set and Sabalenka survived a marathon 11th game with 7 deuces, saving a break point to stay in front.

She scored 2 mini-breaks to clinch the tie break by 7-5, moving set away from the last 4. The second set started with back-to-back breaks and Kozlova earned another one in game 6 to open up a 4-2 lead. She had to dig deep to keep the advantage, though, saving 4 break points in her last 2 service games to bring the set home by 6-3 and send the encounter into a decider.

There, she served at an amazing 88% but that didn't bring her much, dropping the last 2 service games to end on the losing side. Aryna saved 2 break points in the opening game of the set, which was very important, and she broke the resistance of her opponent with those 2 good return games for a 5-1 lead.

Serving for the match, teenager fends off 2 break points to seal the deal with a service winner on her second match point. The second seed Timea Babos will play in her 3rd WTA semi-final of the season, toppling Stefanie Voegele 6-3 6-4 in just 63 minutes. They played twice before, all in China, and just like 2 years ago in Taipei Babos emerged as a winner, controlling the pace with her first serve and breaking Swiss 4 times from 8 chances to bring the match home easily.

Voegele lost almost 50% of the points in her games and she had to chase the result right from the start, playing under the pressure constantly. Babos was off to a flying start, taking 17 out of the first 20 points to race into a 4-0 lead.

She got broken in game 5 but that made no difference, as she lost just 1 point in the last two service games for a 6-3 in under 30 minutes. The second set brought a similar scenario, Timea broke twice to move 3-0 ahead, and Voegele could pull one break back, reducing the deficit to 3-2 (only after saving 3 break points in that 5th game).

Hungarian marched on towards the victory with a great serving display, she lost just 2 points in her last 3 service games to clinch the win, hoping to keep this kind of form in the following matches as well. Quarter-final results:

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