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In the semifinal of the Australian Open, Coco Gauff faced elimination as she suffered a loss to Aryna Sabalenka.

2R5FB35 Paris, France, France. 3rd June, 2023. Coco GAUFF of United States celebrates his victory during the seventh day of Roland-Garros 2023, French Open 2023, Grand Slam tennis tournament at the Roland-Garros Stadium on June 03, 2023 in Paris, France. (Credit Image: © Matthieu Mirville/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!

In a tough turn of events for American tennis prodigy Coco Gauff, her remarkable run at the Australian Open came to a close after a Thursday night semifinal loss to the defending champion, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. The match concluded with Sabalenka securing a 7-6 (2), 6-4 victory, marking Gauff’s first defeat of the year.

Looking ahead, the second-seeded Sabalenka is now poised to face China’s Qinwen Zheng in the final at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena on Saturday. Zheng earned her spot in the final by defeating Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska in the preceding match.

Sabalenka’s accomplishment is noteworthy, as she becomes the first woman since Serena Williams in 2016 and 2017 to reach consecutive finals at the Australian Open.

Throughout the match, Gauff, seeded fourth, showcased her resilience with unexpected responses to Sabalenka’s powerful shots. Despite briefly holding the lead and challenging Sabalenka in the first set, Gauff faced defeat in a contentious tiebreaker. Sabalenka, 25, maintained a steady performance in the second set, capitalizing on Gauff’s mistakes.

Post-match, Sabalenka acknowledged the challenging nature of the battle against Gauff and credited her readiness as the key to victory. “I was just ready for anything tonight. I think that was the key,” Sabalenka stated in a court-side interview.

This semifinal showdown wasn’t the first high-stakes encounter between Gauff and Sabalenka. They previously crossed paths in the U.S. Open final last September, where Gauff emerged victorious with a score of 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, claiming her first Grand Slam title.

Despite the loss in Melbourne, the 19-year-old Gauff expressed pride in her performance, noting that she felt she played even more aggressively than in her successful run in New York. “I had chances in both sets, but she played better tonight,” Gauff shared in a press conference. “I felt like I did my best with the game plan that I had. I think it just came down to a couple of points.” Gauff added that she believed she played more aggressively this time around.

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