Zheng sets up Australian Open final against Sabalenka

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Chinese 12th seed Zheng Qinwen ended the remarkable run of Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska with a 6-4 6-4 semi-final win on Thursday to set up an Australian Open final against defending champion Aryna Sabalenka slated for Saturday.

While the opening semi-final was between the world number two, Aryna Sabalenka, and four, Coco Gauff, the second pitched Zheng, the only seed left in the top half of the draw, against 93rd-ranked qualifier Yastremska.

The match was just as tight with Yastremska, the first women’s qualifier to reach the last four at Melbourne Park since 1978, belying her lowly ranking with some brilliant shot-making, particularly off her rocket of a backhand.

Zheng was named most improved player on the WTA tour and showed why by maintaining a consistently high level with her serve and groundstrokes as her opponent’s waxed and waned, particularly after she pulled up clutching her abdomen.
She was still troubled by Yastremska’s returns into the second set, however, and the Ukrainian put huge pressure on Zheng’s serve before the Chinese 21-year-old managed to break for 4-3 and held to stand on the brink of victory.
Yastremska held her final service game and got to 30-30 as her opponent served for the match but Zheng summoned up two thumping service winners before holding aloft her arms in triumph.
Yastremska, who said she felt pain in her abdomen during the warmup before her injury flared up in the first set, was pleased with her run and revealed she had been flooded with messages from Ukrainians.