Rybakina to battle Sabalenka for Australian Open women’s title
ARYNA Sabalenka of Belarus defeated Poland’s Magda Linette 76(2), 6/3 to reach her first Grand Slam finals, where she will face Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina, who defeated Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7/6 (4), 6/3.
The third-seeded Sabalenka is the highest ranked player still in the tournament. She lost her serve in the opening game of the first set and a likely upset seemed in the offing when her opponent held serve with an ace to lead 2-0.
Sabalenka, however, held serve and cancelled two game points before taking the fourth game. She recovered from 0-30 to take the fifth game. Thereafter, each lady held serve, as Sabalenka delivered an ace to take the ninth game. She also overcame a double fault opening point before taking the 11th game. Serving to save the set, Linette committed a double-fault and was taken to deuce before holding for six games apiece.
Sabalenka took the opening point on her serve in the tiebreak and raced to 6-0. She dropped one service point, but clinched the second to win the set.
Linette held serve in the opening game of the second set, but was broken in the third, while her opponent extended the lead to 3-1. The Polish lady lost the fifth game at love and the Belarusian cancelled two break points to take the sixth game with an ace.
Linette saved three match points before reducing the tally to 2-5, but Sabalenka served out the game to win the set and match.The other semifinal featured Victoria Azarenka, a former champion in Melbourne. At 30 years old, she faced a tough opponent in 24-year-old reigning Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina.
Serving for the first set while leading 5-2 in the tiebreak, Rybakina lost two points to bring the points tally to 5-4. However, Azarenka also lost her two service points to concede the set, 76(4).
In the second set, Rybakina broke Azarenka’s serve in the fifth and seventh games to lead 5-2. Serving for the match, Rybakina dropped the first point for 0-15 and levelled at 30 all. She faced break point at 30-40 and lost the game.
Serving to save the match, Azarenka fell behind 0-30, but prevailed in a long rally to 15-30. However, she committed her sixth double-fault of the match to face match point and lost the game and set 6/3.
While every stroke by Azarenka was accompanied by a loud grunt, Rybakina was a silent performer throughout the encounter. Rybakina will face Aryna Sabalenka for title tomorrow.