Elena Rybakina to face Aryna Sabalenka in Australian Open final
Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka will face each other on Saturday Australian Open final after both women reached their respective semifinals in straight sets.
Rybakina surpassed the two-time champion Victoria Azarenkawon 7-6, 6-3 in just one hour and 40 minutes, while Sabalenka ended the dream of the unseeded Pole. Magda Lynette 7–6, 6–2 to reach his first Grand Slam final for the fourth time.
Rybakina, hot on the heels of last summer’s triumphant Wimbledon run, has now made two of the last three Grand Slam finals and, at just 23, looks set to be a force on the WTA Tour for years to come. is likely
When everything clicks, the Russian-born Kazakh’s game is nearly unstoppable and a marvel to behold. Her fierce serve and bouncy groundstrokes allow her to set points with ease, as 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 to be in 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 to book her place in her second Grand Slam final.
“I am very happy and proud, also with my team because it would be difficult to be here without them,” Rybakina said in her post-match interview. “And thank you indeed [the crowd] A lot because it’s a great environment. I am very happy to reach the final and play here one more time.
“I’ve got a bit of experience from Wimbledon, and I want to get on court and enjoy the moment and the atmosphere because it’s amazing to play in front of your people. We’ll see how it goes – sure, I’ll do my best. I’m going to fight and, hopefully, I’m going to win. ”
53 percent of Rybakina’s serves in this tournament have not been returned, per Eurosport, the highest number in both the men’s and women’s draws at this year’s Australian Open.
It has become one of the most potent weapons on tour, and after opening Thursday’s semifinal with a nerve-wracking double fault, Rybakina reeled off four unreturns to close out the first game and spark an excited murmur from the crowd. Servs – three of them aces – broke.
The two women have met once before on tour, with Rybakina winning 6-3, 6-4 at Indian Wells last year.
Rybakina has beaten former Grand Slam champions – world No. 1 Iga Sviatek and then Jelena Ostapenko – in consecutive matches to reach this point and had to do so to reach Saturday’s final.
Rybakina’s serve looked untouchable in the opening exchanges, but a masterclass in returns from Azarenka earned her a break to go 3-2 up – only for her opponent to return immediately.
There was little to choose between these two players in a brilliant first set of tennis, as both women hit their groundstrokes with incredible power and precision.
But Rybakina made a decisive breakthrough, breaking Azarenka’s serve for 5-3 to give herself the opening set.
However, the 2022 Wimbledon winner may have started to feel the magnitude of the occasion for the first time, as her first serve suddenly dropped her to allow Azarenka to return at the first time of asking and quickly level the scores at 5-all. may be allowed. 5.
Rybakina’s first-serve percentage, which was over 75% to start the set, had now dropped to 48% and once again opened the door for Azarenka to break serve.
The world number 25 is known for her laid-back demeanor – her famous celebration of winning Wimbledon last year made headlines around the world – but her frustration began to flare up a bit when she lobbed a ball in frustration after another miss. hit in the field .
It was a credit to her mindset that she managed to save three break points from 0-40 down and Azarenka had to serve to take the first set into a tie break.
Despite Rybakina’s coach doing little to help the tense situation, chastising her with a frustrated expression every time she missed a shot, she held strong in the tie break to win the opening set.
“Of course, they were nervous because they want me to do well,” he said of his team after the match. “Today was a bit difficult for me. I couldn’t play aggressive tennis, the ball wasn’t going much, but I tried my best to win.”
Rybakina held her first serve again in the second set and broke Azarenka twice to take a commanding 5-2 lead and give herself a chance to serve for the match.
However, Tantu certainly looked like she got the better of her and Azarenka got back one of those breaks of serve as she stepped up her game.
Rybakina was not to be denied for long, however, as she broke Azarenka’s serve for the third time in the set to book her place in Saturday’s final.
Saturday’s final will be a mouth-watering clash between two of the biggest hitters on tour and two players who simply outplayed their semi-final opponents.
Having lost in her previous three Grand Slam semifinals, Sabalenka had determination in her eyes that this would be the night she ended the run.
After a tense opening set, Sablenka stepped up to a level that Lynette couldn’t match in the tie break and eased it out 7-1.
It was a trend that continued in a one-sided second set as Lynette had no answer to Sabalenka’s relentless power.
“I’m very happy that I managed to get this win, she’s an unbelievable player, she played great tennis,” Sabalenka said in her post-match interview. “I am very happy right now.
“I would say I didn’t start really well and then, in the tie break, I found my rhythm and started to trust myself, started going for shots and it was really good tennis for me in the tie break. .
“It’s amazing to reach the finals of these types of tournaments, to feel this atmosphere on these types of courts.”
Sabalenka and Lynette exchanged early breaks of serve in a tense first set, as both players started the match feeling the pressure.
Lynette, playing on the biggest stage of her career, was undeterred by the occasion and held on twice – at 4-5 and 5-6 – to stay in the set and take it to a tie break. served
She had done a good job of absorbing much of Sabalenka’s power thus far, using it at times to return devastating groundstrokes of her own, but eventually prevailed in the tie break.
Sabalenka seemed to find another gear to get going when it mattered most, with her forehand in particular doing serious damage as she finally broke Lynette’s resolve.
Lynette managed to win just one point in a one-sided tie break as Sabalenka’s continued power gave her a crucial one-set lead.
She again faced a tough test in her opening service game of the second set but, as she has done throughout this tournament, held strong to get on the scoreboard once again.
However, that would be as good as it would get for Linnet in the second as Sabalenka maintained the level found in the tie break to win four games in a row and take a 4-1 lead.
Linette scored three break points in Sabalenka’s next service game, but the Belarusian closed the door each time to move one game away from the final.
Credit to Lynette, she continued to fight as she has throughout this tournament and held off three break points to force Sabalenka to serve for the match.
She did just that, after a nervous start, to book a place in a Grand Slam final she had long craved.