In the semifinals of the 2024 Australian Open, we get a rematch of the 2023 US Open final. That match went Coco Gauff's way, as she claimed her first Grand Slam title in front of a raucous New York crowd by defeating Aryna Sabalenka, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. The crowd really helped her raise her level in that match, and it also got to Sabalenka in a big way. The Australian crowd will likely root for Gauff as well—everybody does.

But I still don't think Gauff that will be enough, this time, against the defending champ.

Sabalenka has been tremendous in Melbourne thus far. The Belarusian has won five matches without dropping a set, and her dominant victories over Amanda Anisimova and Barbora Krejcikova were especially impressive. Both of those players can be tricky—and Anisimova was 4-1 against Sabalenka in their previous five matches—but the 25-year-old had no difficulty navigating either match-up.


One thing that’s clear right now is that Sabalenka’s serve is no longer a weakness. In fact, it's looking like more of a strength. Through 10 matches this year, Sabalenka has a hold percentage of 87.5%, and a double fault percentage of just 3.5%. Both of those are career-bests by a significant margin. When Sabalenka is serving like this, she’s pretty much impossible to beat. She just has too much power from the baseline, and she’s too good of a returner.

Gauff is also coming off a performance in which she completely lost her way against Marta Kostyuk. The American was fortunate to come away with a 7-6 (6), 6-7 (3), 6-2 win. Gauff’s serve got away from her and she was mixing in some ugly misses. She also played a sloppy game from the baseline, so I wonder where her confidence will be heading into this match, which she'll need to be on from the start.

A lot of people are going to look at the US Open result and jump to bet Gauff at plus-money odds. But Sabalenka is a much better player right now, and she also happens to have a big edge in form. With that in mind, I’m laying the games—and even think this could get somewhat ugly.

Pick: Sabalenka -3.5 Games (-105)