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MADRID: World number two Aryna Sabalenka was forced to sweat by Mayar Sherif but eventually came through 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to reach the Madrid Open semi-finals Tuesday.

Australian Open champion Sabalenka struggled badly at first but turned the two-hour match around convincingly to reach the semi-finals.

“I was just trying to keep fighting to keep playing my game and find my rhythm,” said Sabalenka.

“She’s a clay court specialist and I’m very happy with this win. It was a very tough one.”

Sherif, the first Egyptian to reach a WTA 1000 quarter-final, capitalised on Sabalenka’s erratic start to break in the first game.

The 26-year-old became the first player to take a set off Sabalenka in Madrid, breaking again for 4-1 and missing set point at 5-1 before clinching it on serve.

Sabalenka ends Andreeva adventure to reach Madrid quarters

However the Belarusian, 24, bounced back strongly, converting all four of her break points in the second set and hitting 10 winners to Sherif’s one to force a third.

The 2021 Madrid winner was a break down at 2-1 in the second but won 11 of the next 12 games.

Sabalenka showed her power as she battered Sherif back to break in the third set before consolidating for 3-0.

Sherif, who beat world number five Caroline Garcia in straight sets in the third round, was eventually overrun by the big-hitter, who secured another break and then served out.

Sabalenka will face Greek world number nine Maria Sakkari or Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu, who play in the second quarter-final later Tuesday.

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