Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka will meet in Saturday’s Australian Open final after both women made it past their respective semi-finals.
Rybakina defeated two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6 6-3 in just over an hour and 40 minutes, Sabalenka reaching her fourth grand slam final for the first time. You asked after a 7-6 6-2 win.
Big-hitting Rybakina has made two of the last three grand slam finals since winning Wimbledon last summer and, at just 23, could be a force on the WTA Tour for years to come.
When everything clicks, you can watch the game of Kazakh of Russian origin without rest. Her fierce serve and intense backhands allow her to claim points with ease if she can maintain the consistency to power through.
Momentum swung back and forth in the opening set, and the more experienced Azarenka looked to dominate the tiebreak, but Rybakina found her serve when she needed it most to take a decisive lead.
The second set was a little more straightforward as Rybakina beat Azarenka three times en route to her second Grand Slam final.
“I am very happy and proud of my team, because without them it would be difficult to be here,” Rybakina said in a post-match interview. “And thank you very much [the crowd] a lot because it’s a great atmosphere. I’m very happy to reach the final and play here again.
“I have some experience from Wimbledon and I want to go out on court and enjoy the moment and the atmosphere because it’s great to play in front of you guys. We’ll see how it goes – of course I’ll do my best. I will fight and I hope to win.”
According to Eurosport, 53 percent of Rybakina’s serves in this tournament were not returned.
It has become one of the tour’s most potent weapons, and after opening Thursday’s semifinal with a nervy double fault, Rybakina served four unreturned serves – including three aces – to seal the first game, sparking a roar from the crowd.
The two women have met once on tour, with Rybakina winning 6-3 6-4 in Indian Wells last year.
Rybakina beat former grand slam champions – world No 1 Iga Shvyatek, followed by Jelena Ostapenko – in straight sets to reach this stage and will have to do so again to reach Saturday’s final.
Rybakina’s serve looked vulnerable in the early exchanges, but a masterful return from Azarenka gave her a break to take a 3-2 lead – only for her opponent to break right back.
In the first set of tennis, there was little to choose between these two players as both women hit groundstrokes with incredible power and precision.
But Rybakina found a decisive breakthrough, breaking Azarenka’s serve to go up 5-3 and give herself the first set.
However, the 2022 Wimbledon winner may have begun to feel the magnitude of the incident for the first time as her first serve suddenly abandoned her, allowing Azarenka to break back at the first time of asking to quickly level the points at 5-all. 5.
Rybakina’s first serve percentage, which was 75% at the start of the set, has now dropped to 48%, opening the door for Azarenka to break serve again.
The world No.25 is known for his calm demeanor – his celebration of winning Wimbledon last year was muted around the world – but his frustration began to build slightly when he hit the ball into the ground after another missed walk. .
Credit to Azarenka’s sanity as she saved three break points from 0-40 down to force her to serve to take the first set before the tiebreak.
Although Rybakina’s coach did little to help the tense situation, chastising her with angry looks every time she missed a shot, she held on in the tiebreak to win the first set.
“Obviously they’re 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 didn’t travel that much, but I did my best to win.”
Rybakina found her first serve in the second set and broke Azarenka twice to take a 5-2 lead and serve herself out for the match.
However, nerves seemed to get the better of her and she only got stronger as Azarenka stepped up her game to return one of her service breaks.
Rybakina was not to be denied for long as she broke Azarenka’s serve for the third time to book her place in Saturday’s final.
Saturday’s final looks set to be a mouth-watering clash between two of the Tour’s biggest players and two players who just beat their semi-final opponents.
After losing in her previous three Grand Slam semifinals, Sabalenka had added confidence that this would be a run-ending night.
After a hard-fought opening set, Sabalenka rose to a level that Lynette couldn’t match in the tiebreak and easily finished it 7-1.
It was a trend that continued in the one-sided second set as Lynette had no answer to Sabalenka’s relentless power.
“I’m very happy to get this win, he’s a great player, he played great tennis,” Sabakalenko said in a post-match interview. “I’m very happy right now.
“I would say I didn’t start well, then in the tiebreak I found my rhythm, started to trust myself, started to go for the shots, it was great tennis for me in the tiebreak.
“It’s great to be in the finals of such tournaments, to feel the atmosphere on such courts.”
Sabalenka and Lynetta traded the first breaks of the first set as both players started the match feeling the pressure.
Lynette, playing on the biggest stage of her career, was in no way fazed by the incident and served twice – at 4-5 and 5-6 – to tie-breaks.
She did well to soak up much of Sabalenka’s power, at times using it to return her brutal jabs, but in the end the tie was stunned at the break.
Sabalenka seemed to find another tool when it mattered most, especially with her forehand suffering as she finally broke Lynette’s resolve.
Lynette won just one point in the tiebreak as Sabalenka’s relentless power gave her a decisive one-set lead.
He then faced a stern challenge in the first service game of the second set, but again held firm to get on the scoreboard, as he has done throughout this tournament.
However, it would be good for Lynette in the second game, as Sabalenka maintained the level she found in the tiebreak, winning four straight games to take a 4-1 lead.
Lynette came up with three break points in Sabalenka’s next service game, but the Belarusian slammed the door shut each time to move one game out of the final.
Credit to Lynette, she continued to fight as she has in this tournament and saved three break points to force Sabalenka to serve for the match.
He did so after a nervous start to book his long-coveted Grand Slam final spot.