Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the final of the Australian Open 2023 after winning their respective semifinals on Thursday. Rybakina, a 23-year-old who represents Kazakhstan defeated Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at Melbourne Park. On the other hand, Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus reached her first Grand Slam title match at age 24 by beating unseeded Magda Linette 7-6 (1), 6-2 in the second semifinal.
Rybakina and Sabalenka employ a somewhat similar brand of tennis, relying on big serves and big hitting at the baseline. Sabalenka is far less cautious, though, and her penchant for the high-risk, high-reward play was evident against Linette, who had never before been past the third round in 29 appearances at majors.
The key to both semifinals turned out to be a first-set tiebreaker. Azarenka lost the mark on her strokes, for the most part, making things smoother for Rybakina, while Sabalenka raced to a 6-0 lead in hers. It wasn’t the case that every shot Sabalenka hit landed right on a line, but it must have seemed that way to Linette.
“Everything was new at Wimbledon,” Rybakina said after hitting nine aces in the semifinals to raise her tournament-leading total to 44. “Now I more or less understand what to expect.”
“In the tiebreaker, I really found my rhythm. Started trusting myself. Started going for my shots ” Sabalenka said.
Rybakina’s win over Azarenka, the champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, added to what already was an impressive run through a string of top opponents. She also beat No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko — both owners of major titles — and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.
“For sure, they’re very experienced players,” said Rybakina, whose parents and sister have been in town throughout the Australian Open.
The women’s final match is scheduled at the Rod Laver Arena on January 28 at 2 PM IST.