Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has another shot at a major title after reaching the Australian Open final to meet Aryna Sabalenka.
Elena rybakina, Aryna sabalenka reach Aus open final
Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka will face off in Saturday’s Australian Open final after both women came through their respective semifinals in straight sets.
Fifty-three percent of Rybakina’s serves at this tournament have been unreturned, per Eurosport, the highest number across both the men’s and women’s draws at this year’s Australian Open.
It’s become one of the most potent weapons on Tour, and after opening Thursday’s semifinal with a nervous double fault, Rybakina ripped off four unreturned serves — three of them aces — to close out the first game and stir up an excited murmur in the crowd.
These two women had met just once before on Tour, with Rybakina winning 6-3 6-4 at Indian Wells last year.
Rybakina has beaten former grand slam champions in consecutive matches to reach this stage — world No. 1 Iga Światek and then Jelena Ostapenko — and had to do so again to reach Saturday’s final.
Rybakina’s serve looked untouchable in the opening exchanges, but a masterclass in returning from Azarenka earned her a break to go 3-2 up — only for her opponent to break back immediately.
There was little to choose between these two players in what was a brilliant first set of tennis, as both women were hitting their groundstrokes with stunning power and accuracy.
Rybakina powered her way past two-time champion Victoria Azarenka, winning 7-6 6-3 in just over an hour and 40 minutes, while Sabalenka ended the dream run of unseeded Pole Magda Linette to reach her first grand slam final at the fourth time of asking after a 7-6 6-2 victory.
The huge-hitting Rybakina has now made two of the last three grand slam finals after her victorious Wimbledon run last summer and, at just 23 years of age, is likely to be a force on the WTA Tour for many years to come.
When everything clicks, the Russian-born Kazakh’s game is almost unstoppable and a marvel to watch. Her ferocious serve and booming groundstrokes allow her to dictate points with ease, so long as she can maintain the consistency to go with the power.
The momentum swung back and forth in the opening set and the more experienced Azarenka looked as though she had the upper hand going into the tie break, but Rybakina found her serve when she needed it most to take a crucial lead.
The second set was a somewhat more straightforward affair, as Rybakina broke Azarenka three times en route to securing a place in her second grand slam final.
“I’m super happy and proud, with my team also because without them it would be difficult to be here,” Rybakina said in her post-match interview. “And really thank you [the crowd] a lot because it’s an incredible atmosphere. I’m super happy to be in the final and play one more time here.
“I’ve got a little bit of experience from Wimbledon, and I want to come on court and enjoy the moment and atmosphere because it’s amazing to play in front of you guys. We’ll see how it’s going to go — for sure, I’ll try my best. I’ll fight and, hopefully, I’m going to win.”
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