Sabalenka beats Zheng to reach US Open semi-finals

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus advanced to the semi-finals of the US Open with a straight sets victory over <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:China;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">China</a>'s Zheng Qinwen (Sarah Stier)
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus advanced to the semi-finals of the US Open with a straight sets victory over China's Zheng Qinwen (Sarah Stier)

Aryna Sabalenka stayed on course for her second Grand Slam title of the season after pummeling China's Zheng Qinwen in straight sets to reach the US Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

Australian Open champion Sabalenka -- who will take over as world number one next week -- booked her place in the last four with a 6-1, 6-4 victory in 1hr 13min.

The Belarusian second seed will face either Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic or Madison Keys of the United States in the last four.

"I think I definitely played great tennis today," said Sabalenka, relying on a dominant serve to overwhelm Zheng.

Sabalenka was assured of replacing Iga Swiatek at the top of the women's rankings after the Polish No.1 crashed out of the US Open on Sunday.

However Sabalenka said she is not thinking about her new-found status as the world's top player just yet.

"Of course I'm happy ... it's incredible for me and my family.

"But I have some things still to do in New York this year and I'll think about becoming No.1 after the US Open."

Sabalenka has now reached the semi-finals at the last five Grand Slam events she has played in, a run that started at last year's US Open.

She was within a point of reaching the French Open final in June, and lost in three sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals in July.

Sabalenka says those losses left her more battle-hardened for her campaign in New York.

"I had a couple of really tough losses this year, but as I said, we're not losing; we're learning," Sabalenka said.

"I just have really strong belief that all those tough matches that I lost will help me in the future in other tough matches, other tough battles."

Rising Chinese star Zheng had been dreaming of pulling off another upset after reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final by downing last year's finalist Ons Jabeur in the fourth round.

But the 20-year-old 23rd seed never looked like toppling the hard-hitting Sabalenka, who threatened to run away with the match after a blistering start in which she broke Zheng twice for a 3-0 lead, conceding just two points.

Zheng was broken again to go 4-0 down and although she finally held in the sixth game to make it 5-1, Sabalenka served out easily to take the first set in just 27 minutes.

Sabalenka's dominance was reflected in her serve, where she won 23 of 26 points on her first serve, and 13 of 19 on her second. Zheng was unable to open up a single break point opportunity across the match.

"She has one of the fastest serve in tour, close speed to some men's," Zheng said.

"If you want to beat her, first you have to know how to handle her service game," Zheng added. "Today I didn't handle it well. That's why I couldn't break her even once."

Zheng fared slightly better in the second set, but after Sabalenka broke in the seventh game for a 4-3 lead, the result was never in doubt, and she wrapped up victory on serve in the 10th game.