Aryna Sabalenka, soon to be new No. 1, cruises into U.S. Open semifinals


By JAMES MARTINEZ Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka moved into the U.S. Open semifinals on Wednesday, looking every bit the top player in the world while rolling to a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Zheng Qinwen in just over an hour.

Sabalenka, who is going to be the No. 1 player in the WTA rankings next week because of the fourth-round loss of Iga Swiatek, still has not dropped a set at Flushing Meadows. She cruised through her quarterfinal in 92-degree heat that prompted a partial closing of the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof to provide more shade.

The No. 2-seeded Belarusian has made the last five Grand Slam semifinals, winning her lone major at the Australian Open in January.

“I just gave myself another opportunity to do better in the semis,” Sabalenka said in her post-match interview. “I still have things to do in New York. … I’ll think about being the world No. 1 after the U.S. Open.”

Zheng, a 20-year-old from China who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinals by taking out No. 3 seed Ons Jabeur, fought off a match point with an ace. But she got just 41% of her first serves in play and won just three points against Sabalenka’s first serves.

Next up for Sabalenka is the winner of the night match on Ashe between ninth-seeded Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova and No. 17 American Madison Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up.

Also scheduled for the day session, fellow Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev meet for a spot in the semifinals. The third-seeded Medvedev won the title at Flushing Meadows in 2021.

Medvedev or Rublev will meet the winner of the nightcap between defending champion Carlos Alcaraz and No. 12 Alexander Zverev, who won a fourth-round matchup Monday against Jannik Sinner that lasted 4 hours, 41 minutes.

The other men’s semifinals matchup Friday is already set, with No. 2-seeded Novak Djokovic taking on hard-hitting American Ben Shelton.

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