The Belarusian came from a set and a break down to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
STUTTGART: World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka came from a set and a break down to see off Spanish wild card Paula Badosa and reach the WTA Stuttgart semifinals for the third consecutive year on Friday.
The Belarusian won through 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours, 30 minutes and next meets Russian Anastasia Potapova who ousted French fourth seed Caroline Garcia 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, for a place in the final.
In a tight first set, Badosa saved three break points to serve out, and opened a 6-4, 4-2 lead before Sabalenka broke back for 4-4, reeling off seven games on the trot for a 3-0 lead in the third set.
“I was just talking to myself and saying, OK, just try one more time, just try to put the ball back, and then run and move and try to win this game and probably you can win this set,” said Sabalenka of the key eighth game in the second set.
“Then who knows what’s going to happen in the third set? Definitely that game was the key game.”
In the decider, the pair traded serves with five breaks but 31st-ranked Badosa, who fell to Sabalenka in the semifinals in Stuttgart last year, paid for a string of double faults with nine in total.
Sabalenka sealed victory on her second match point with a backhand into an open court nailing her 40th winner of the day on clay in the French Open warm-up tournament.
The Australian Open champion advances to her fourth semifinal in six tournaments this year, with her overall record now 22-3 for 2023.
Sabalenka is seeking her first Stuttgart title after two runner-up finishes in 2021 to Ashleigh Barty and in 2022 to Iga Swiatek.
World No 1 Swiatek faces Karolina Pliskova later Friday in her quarterfinal.
Potapova, ranked at 24 in the world, claimed her third top-five win with a 2-hour, 12-minute upset of Garcia.
She fired 19 winners to Garcia’s 34, but also committed 42 unforced errors compared to her seeded opponent’s 69.
On Saturday, Potapova will face Sabalenka for the first time.
“Aryna is my good friend, and I think it’s going to be fun. I’ve been waiting for this match, actually. I really wanted to play against you, Aryna, I don’t know if you’re watching,” she said.