Dominant Gauff moves into Auckland semis, Sabalenka advances in Brisbane

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Dominant Gauff moves into Auckland semis, Sabalenka advances in Brisbane

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Gauff is looking good
Gauff is looking good Reuters
Coco Gauff (19) swept aside Varvara Gracheva 6-1, 6-1 to reach the semi-finals of the Auckland Classic on Friday as the US Open champion continued her impressive buildup to the first Grand Slam of the year at Melbourne Park.

Rain delayed the start of the match but once play began Gauff needed only 53 minutes to see off her French rival. The 19-year-old has not dropped a set in her title defence and did not face a single break point on Friday.

The world number three raced through the opening set and took a 4-0 lead in the second before Gracheva held serve, and with dark clouds gathering once again Gauff was quick to wrap up a victory which pits her against Emma Navarro in an all-American semi-final.

"I was focusing on playing my game," Gauff said.

"I thought I served really well, probably the best so far in the tournament, which is something I've been working on off-season. I'm really happy with how I played.

"I'm glad I was able to finish my match (before it could rain)."

At the Brisbane International, another warm-up tournament for the Australian Open, world number two Aryna Sabalenka overcame Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-4 to set up a semi-final clash with Victoria Azarenka.

Sabalenka stormed through the first set but faced a stiffer challenge in the second as Kasatkina raised her game even though she could not force a decider.

Defending Australia Open champion Sabalenka fired 29 winners, compared to seven by her opponent, to snuff out Kasatkina's hopes of a comeback.

"It's hard there because you get to know each other better and better every time you play," Sabalenka, who now has a 6-2 head-to-head lead against Kasatkina, said of their rivalry.

"It's always tough. She's really a great player, a great fight... Going into this match, I knew there's going to be a hard battle and I have to be ready."

She will meet Azarenka, who outlasted Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 to make the last four. Ostapenko came from one set down to stretch the match into a decider but Azarenka had the last laugh in the thrilling three-setter.

Elena Rybakina reached the last four after her opponent Anastasia Potapova retired through injury after losing the first set 6-1. She will meet Linda Noskova, who beat Mirra Andreeva 7-5, 6-3, in the other semi-final.

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