Martina Navratilova: "Aryna Sabalenka is much stronger than Coco Gauff"

The legend of women's tennis talked about the Australian Open semi-final between the young American star and the defending Belarusian champion

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Martina Navratilova: "Aryna Sabalenka is much stronger than Coco Gauff"
© Darrian Traynor / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The semifinal of the Australian Open 2024 between Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff promises to be a great match. This is the rematch of the New York final, where the young American prevailed but, beyond that, it will be a match where two styles of play and two different but in some ways similar girls will meet.

During an interview with Tennis Channel, the US tennis legend Martina Navratilova talked about the semi-final of the women's singles in Melbourne, which will see the defending champion Sabalenka on the court against the US Open winner Gauff. Navratilova believes that, at this moment and for this match, Sabalenka is the favorite and the stronger of the two.

"I think Sabalenka will be much tougher mentally. I don't think she'll let whatever happens to the crowd affect her like it did at the US Open. Coco didn't play well, especially in the quarterfinals. It will be a test of mental strength more than anything. another thing, but the way Sabalenka played, I think it will be really difficult for Coco to win their match.

Before, she was better in these stressful situations. Sabalenka won three matches against quality opponents. So yes, I think Sabalenka is much more stronger. Also, the big difference is the crowd. I think there will be more for Coco, but I think Sabalenka, having won last year and it was Australia, not the USA, will make the difference," explained Navratilova.

Billie Jean King also expressed herself about the match, through an Instagram story, sharing all her excitement for the challenge and writing: "Can't wait."

Aryna and Coco's words

At the press conference, after her quarterfinal match won, Sabalenka said: "I'm happy to face her, I really wanted to have a chance to get revenge. It was a fantastic match at the US Open. I'm excited to play this semifinal. I think to be more mature now. I worked with a mental coach for years and it helped me a lot, but I realized that I needed to control my emotions better on my own. I think it was the biggest decision I made: I have to take responsibility for the things I do. "

Coco, however, explained: "It was a battle. I didn't play my best tennis, but I'm really proud of being able to overcome a match like this. Down 1-5 in the first set? I wasn't playing well and I was practically making mistakes everything. I just tried to win one more game. Obviously when you're down 1-5 you don't expect to win the set, but I think every point is important. I fought as hard as I could."

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Martina Navratilova Aryna Sabalenka Coco Gauff