Just as she did last year, Aryna Sabalenka is hitting her stride at a US Open series event. On Saturday evening in San Jose, the world No. 10 defeated Donna Vekic, 6-4, 6-3, to reach her first final since opening the 2019 season with the Shenzhen title.

“I just hit the ball as hard as I could and everything was going in,” joked Sabalenka on-court afterwards. “It probably was a lucky day for me. It was a great match. I enjoyed every second here today.”

There were plenty of highs and lows in the encounter, with the two combining for 14 double faults and 10 breaks of serve, but it was Sabalenka who held her nerve when it counted to overturn a 0-3 record against the fifth-seeded Croatian.


(AP Images)

Nearly 12 months ago, Sabalenka picked up her first WTA title in New Haven and later added a second triumph in Wuhan to go along with a fourth-round showing at the US Open. She was expected to challenge for major hardware in 2019 after breaking into the Top 10, but failed to reach the second week at the first three Grand Slam events, twice losing to Amanda Anisimova.

In Sunday’s final, Sabalenka will play Zheng Saisai. The unseeded Chinese eliminated last year’s finalist Maria Sakkari, 7-6 (5), 6-2, to knock out her third seeded opponent of the week. Zheng is bidding to win her first WTA singles title. Zheng and Sabalenka have never met on the WTA tour, with Zheng winning an ITF meeting in 2017 at Zhuhai.