Aryna Sabalenka qualifies in Melbourne as Billie Jean King wants to shake up Wimbledon

Aryna Sabalenka has reached her fourth Grand Slam semifinal.

Aryna Sabalenka has reached her fourth Grand Slam semifinal.

Billie Jean King called for Wimbledon to allow Russian and Belarusian players to compete in the All England Club this year Ariana Sabalenka They set up the prospect of making the final of the Australian Open for the Belarussian.

Sabalenka was defeated Donna Vekic 6-3 6-2 She will face surprise setter Magda Linette on Thursday while Victoria Azarenka plays Russian turned Kazakh Elena Rybakina.

With Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals in the men’s draw, as well as Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals, the stakes couldn’t be higher as Wimbledon organizers consider whether to overturn last year’s ban.

Speaking at a news conference to celebrate the WTA’s 50th anniversary, King said, “Just make them play and get their money’s worth.

“I hope they do, just keep it the same way everyone else does. Life is too short. The WTA was started for this, so we will all have one vote to help protect the players.”

With the war in Ukraine showing no sign of ending, Wimbledon risks being accused of hypocrisy if Russians and Belarusians are allowed to play this year, but continuing the ban will once again put them in conflict with the WTA and ATP.

World number five Sabalenka reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2021 and would have been one of the favorites had she been allowed to compete last summer.

I just understand that it is not my fault. I have no control.

Irina Sabalenka talks about the war in Ukraine

Some Ukrainian players continue to call for wider bans on Russian and Belarusian players, and Sabalenka said: “I would say that of course it affects me a lot.

“It was hard and it’s still hard. But I just understand that it’s not my fault. I have no control. If I could do something, of course I would, but I can’t do anything. Just having that understanding really helps me stay strong.”

Asked about the possibility of facing Azarenka in his first Grand Slam final in Belarus, Sabalenka said: “I really want that to happen. I know Vika will do everything she can to make it happen. I will do everything I can to make it happen. This will be history.”

Spectators were forbidden to bring the Russian and Belarusian flags Melbourne Park last week after being outraged that the Russian flag was raised during a match between a player from that country and Ukraine.

Sabalenka is certain to have her first Grand Slam final after continuing her impressive performance against Croatia’s Vekic.

The fifth seed is yet to drop a set in her nine matches in 2023, as she combines her trademark strength with more control and renewed confidence on her big serve, which was such a liability last year.

The match was closer than the score indicated, but Croatian Vekic, playing in only her second Grand Slam quarter-final, paid the price for serving 13 double faults and had just one of 10 break points in the first set.

Sabalenka has talked a lot this tournament about trying to maintain a calmer approach on the court but she knows that will be tested as she tries to make her lucky fourth Slam semi-final.

She said, “I feel a little different. I think I lost the semi-final just because I wasn’t really calm on the court. I was overdoing things. I really wanted to get that slam. I was going so fast. I was so nervous. They scream, they do all this stuff.”

“Now I’m a little calmer on the court. I think I really think that’s the one thing that was missing from my game.

“So now it will be a real test for me, if I can keep my cool like I’ve been keeping my cool over these past matches.”

Lynette continued her surprising run by defeating Karolina Pliskova to reach the semi-finals.

The 30-year-old defeated compatriots Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz to become the third Polish woman, after world number one Agnieszka Radwanska, to reach the last four in Melbourne.

World number 45 Lynette, who knocked out fourth seed Caroline Garcia in the previous round, put in a solid performance in her first Grand Slam quarter-final to win 6-3, 7-5.

When asked how she managed to stay in control, Lynette said, “I don’t know. Maybe I still really can’t believe it.”

“I think I had a lot of experience on those big courts before, because almost every major tournament I ended up on a big court one way or another. I’ve already played a lot of the big guys.

“It’s nothing really new to me. Just another match. Of course it’s a long way in the draw. But still, it kind of feels the same.”

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