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Aryna Sabalenka, Ons Jabeur advance to Wimbledon semifinals

Aryna Sabalenka reached the semifinals at Wimbledon for the second straight time, with a one-year break in between because she was banned from the tournament in 2022.

Sabalenka, a Belarusian who is seeded second at the All England Club, had to sit out last year’s competition along with other players from her country and from Russia because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She advanced Wednesday by defeating Madison Keys 6-2, 6-4 on No. 1 Court.

“It really feels amazing to be back in the semifinals. I can’t wait to play in my second semifinal at Wimbledon,” said Sabalenka, who lost to runner-up Karolina Pliskova in 2021. “Hopefully I can do better than I did last time.”

The triumph improved Sabalenka’s record to 17-1 at major tournaments this year. She won the Australian Open and reached the semifinals at the French Open before her five wins so far on the grass at Wimbledon.

Sabalenka also improved her record to 6-0 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches, and she did so despite much of the cheering going toward Keys on Wednesday.

“Thank you so much for the atmosphere, even though you supported her more,” Sabalenka said on court. “I still enjoyed playing in front of you guys.”

Sabalenka will next face Ons Jabeur, a sixth-seeded Tunisian who defeated defending champion Elena Rybakina 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-1 on Centre Court in a rematch of last year’s final.

“I wish we can exchange this match from finals last year,” said Jabeur, who lost to Rybakina in three sets in 2022.

Jabeur won eight of the last nine games to reach the semifinals at a major tournament for the third time. She is 2-0 in the previous two, also reaching the final at last year’s US Open.

“I’m going to keep the spirit on the court and hopefully the crowd will be with me,” Jabeur said of the match against Sabalenka.

Steve Carr

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