For the second consecutive grand slam, Sabalenka is into the semi-finals after a comprehensive win over a fatigued Barbora Krejcikova.
The Belarusian’s run has been impressive despite a first round scare against Nina Stojanovic, the world number two has secured straight sets wins over Tamara Zidansek, Danielle Collins, Elise Mertens and Krejcikova.
Next for Sabalenka will be 18 year-old Fernandez who is into her first grand slam semi-final.
The Canadian has made her breakthrough on the grand stage by beating two former top 20 players in Ana Konjuh and Kaia Kanepi. That was followed by impressive wins over grand slam champions in Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, with the run being sealed by knocking out fifth seed Svitolina.
For Sabalenka she is just enjoying her tennis and feeling proud of her week and a half so far, “Second semi-final, and hopefully I can keep it up,” Sabalenka was quoted as saying by the WTA website.
“That’s amazing. I’m really proud of myself, and I’m really proud of my team that they’re always working, they’re always trying to find things where I can improve. This is what I am mostly proud of.
“I just start enjoying every match. It sounds simple, but with all the things going around, it’s not easy to focus on each match, to enjoy it, to enjoy every fight, every challenge. This is everything I changed, I would say. My focus is step by step. It’s working well.”
As for Fernandez she has attributed her big breakthrough in New York to self-belief and hard-work:
“I’ve always had that belief. I’ve always tried to use that in every match that I go on. I guess today that belief came true,” the 18 year-old was quoted as saying by the WTA website.
“Just a few bad matches here and there. I always went back to work. Went back home to work harder, try to improve my game. I was glad that every match that I played, I was improving little by little. Today, or this whole few weeks, I was able to showcase all the sacrifice I’ve made the past year so that I can get to this point. After every point, win or lose, I would always tell myself, trust my game, go for my shots, just see where the ball goes.”
For Sabalenka she will need to keep serving well and constructing short and effective patterns of play to prevent her Canadian opponent from displaying her counter-attacking abilities. As for Fernandez she needs to use as much variety as possible including slices, changes of direction in shots and keeping cool under pressure.
The world number two will have the experience but Fernandez has the self-belief and confidence heading into this match. This will be another tight battle but Sabalenka has the edge and if she can play her best level then it should be her heading into a first grand slam final.
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