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Other SportsAustralian Open 2024, Day 12: Preview, how to watch, order of play...

Australian Open 2024, Day 12: Preview, how to watch, order of play and predictions

The Headliners

Aryna Sabalenka has made no secret of her desire to gain revenge over Coco Gauff following her defeat in the 2023 US Open final.

She will get her chance in Melbourne tomorrow when the pair clash in the last four of the Australian Open.

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“I love it. I love it,” Sabalenka said of the match-up.

“After the US Open, I really wanted that revenge, and, I mean, that’s a great match. It’s always great battles against Coco, with really great fights.

“I’m happy to play her, and I’m super excited to play that semi-final match.”

Defending champion Sabalenka is in great form having not dropped a set – she’s lost just 16 games – on her run to the semis. She has not lost a match at the Australian Open since going down to Kaia Kanepi in the fourth round in 2022.

The Belarusian has now reached the semi-finals or better in six successive grand slam events, an achievement she attributes to a calmer on-court demeanour.

“I’m not getting crazy on court, I’m not rushing things,” Sabalenka said. 

“I’m just playing point by point, fighting for every point without overthinking about my dreams, about what I want to do, about how many slams I want to win and all that stuff.”

Standing in her way of another Melbourne Park final is a player who has not lost a match in 2024. Gauff may have not sparkled the way Sabalenka has over the past 10 days but the fact remains she has only been taken to three sets once, by Marta Kostyuk in a scrappy quarter-final.

The American has won 34 of her last 38 matches and won’t be overawed at facing Sabalenka’s all-power game.

She said: “The goal is to stay here as long as possible and keep going upwards. I mean, I’m not at the top but I’m up there.

“I think definitely being in [grand slam] semis a couple of times before, you don’t feel like it’s your last time ever reaching this. You want to play like it’s your last time, I guess, because you don’t want to take advantage of the moment, but also just feel like you can do it again.

“It does give me confidence knowing that in that stage of a grand slam my nerves are usually settled. 

“Hopefully I can go out there and be settled.”

It’s arguably the final before the final. Two juggernauts going head to head. Something has to give.

The subplot

If one semi-final is between two of the game’s biggest stars, the other is between two players trying desperately to elevate themselves into the upper echelons.

And for Dayana Yastremska it presents another opportunity to get her once-promising career back on track.

The Ukrainian was ranked inside the top 25 at 19 years of age when she was handed a provisional ban for a failed doping test. She appealed and the suspension was lifted after six months with an independent tribunal ruling the positive test was due to contamination.

It has been a long road back but her 6-3 6-4 win over Linda Noskova in the quarter-final meant she is the first qualifier since Christine Dorey in 1978 to reach the last four of the Australian Open.

She said: “It’s nice to make history. It’s something new for me and for my generation because the last time it happened it was a long time ago. I wasn’t born yet.

“It’s nice. I’m really happy to be in my first semi-finals. I was a little bit nervous, but at the same time tired.”

Yastremska will face 12th seed Qinwen Zheng following her 6-7 (4/7) 6-3 6-1 victory over Anna Kalinskaya.

Order of Play – selected matches

Night session (from 08:30 UK time)

Coco Gauff v Aryna Sabalenka

Dayana Yastremska v Qinwen Zheng

When and how to watch

The Australian Open is available to watch live on Discovery+ and Eurosport in the United Kingdom, with the day’s singles action getting under way from 0830 UK time on Thursday.

Predictions

Gauff v Sabalenka ought to be a cracker. Sabalenka’s added power – and her desire for revenge for the defeat at Flushing Meadows – should just give her the edge.

In the other semi, look for Yastremska’s remarkable return to prominence to gain traction with a win over Zheng.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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