Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka is set for her third clash against dangerous big-hitter Dayana Yastremska when they meet across the net in the last four of the Adelaide International. The powerful Belarussian is looking to get a step closer to her first title of the season, but would need to do something she has yet to achieve, beat her Ukrainian opponent. On the other hand, Yastremska, the younger of the duo, is contesting her first ever Premier semifinal.
The older and more experienced Sabalenka, the sixth seed in Adelaide this year, is contesting her first ever semifinal on Australian soil. The Belarussian, who has a couple of Premier titles to her name already, two of which coming at Premier 5-level Wuhan Open, is looking to add Adelaide to the list this week. Sabalenka kicked off 2020 in Shenzhen last week where she was the defending champion but suffered an upset in the second round when she fell to Czech lefty Kristyna Pliskova in straight sets.
The Belarussian looks to be gaining some steam this week in Adelaide, where she took a wildcard. After overcoming a stern test in Hsieh Su-wei in her opener, she has gone on to score a couple of straight-set wins over the likes of qualifier Bernarda Pera and second seed Simona Halep to make the semifinals.
Standing in the way of Sabalenka from another Premier final is the young and talented Yastremska. The teenager is coming off a successful 2019 season which saw her win two titles in Hua Hin and Strasbourg. She also finished in the top 30 for the first time in her career, at number 22, and recorded her best Grand Slam result to date by making the fourth round of Wimbledon.
Yastremska’s 2020 started out on pretty much the same foot as Sabalenka’s. She was dumped out in the opening round of Brisbane last week by Kiki Bertens but scored wins over lucky loser Timea Babos and ninth seed Angelique Kerber to reach the last eight in Adelaide. There, she maintained her spotless record over Donna Vekic, beating the Croat in straight sets to make her maiden Premier semifinal.
This will be the third encounter between both players. Their first came in the quarterfinals of an ITF event in St. Petersburg 2017, where Yastremska came back from a set down to beat her older Belarussian opponent in straight sets. The Ukrainian repeated the same feat in the semifinals of Strasbourg last year where she moved past Sabalenka in straight sets en route to claiming her most recent title.
Despite having the advantage in their head-to-head series, Yastremska enters this match being the underdog of the two. This is the furthest she has advanced at a Premier event thus far in her career while Sabalenka, in contrast, already has multiple Premier titles to her name.
However, Yastremska, like her prior match, against Vekic, enters this one with a 2-0 spotless advantage over Sabalenka, could the Ukrainian teenager carve a repeat of the result against the former? Yastremska has yet to drop a set this tournament and if the is able to keep up the confident first-strike tennis she has been showing in Adelaide so far, a place in her maiden Premier-level final is very likely.
Prediction: Dayana Yastremska in straight sets