WTA Cincinnati: Aryna Sabalenka books her place in the semifinals
Aryna Sabalenka was lethal off the ground in this match (John Hoin/VAVEL USA)

WTA Cincinnati: Aryna Sabalenka books her place in the semifinals

The Belarusian dealt with Keys' power well as she booked a spot in her first Premier 5 semifinal.

notfirstnoel
Noel John Alberto

Madison Keys and Aryna Sabalenka kicked off the night session on Center Court at the Western and Southern Open. It was the Belarusian who earned her spot in the semifinal of a Premier 5 tournament for the first time in her career. 

Sabalenka Strikes First 

Keys has been battle-tested throughout the week, going three sets with Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Angelique Kerber and also picking up a win in between those two matches against Camila Giorgi

In the early stages, Keys was trying to make her mark early on with a quick break but could not convert as Sabalenka held on for a 1-0 lead. She saved break points again in the fifth game before breaking the American in the following game. 

The one break was all that Sabalenka needed to take the opening set 6-3. 

It wasn't the best day at the office for Madison Keys (John Hoin/VAVEL USA)
It wasn't the best day at the office for Madison Keys (John Hoin/VAVEL USA)

Sabalenka Holds On Late

Keys was broken at 30 to start the second set as she knocked a backhand into the net much to her frustration. The American had three break back points, going up 0-40, but Sabalenka reeled off five straight to consolidate the break. 

It wasn't until the eighth game where Keys once again had another look in on the Belarusian's serve. The 13 seed was just not finding off the ground like she had been earlier this week, which could have been a sign of fatigue from two physical three-setters earlier in the week. 

After holding for 4-5, Keys had one last chance to break after knocking a forehand winner down the line for 30-40. Once again though, Sabalenka came through with some timely hitting. Sabalenka took the match to set up a showdown with Simona Halep for a spot in the final.

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