Los Angeles Times
Rising Rybakina advances to another major final
She beats Azarenka at Australian Open to reach second Grand Slam championship.
MELBOURNE, Australia — What all seemed so different, so daunting, even, about trying to win a Grand Slam event title to Elena Rybakina a little more than six months ago is now coming rather naturally.
And if she can win one more match, she will add a championship at the Australian Open to the one she collected at Wimbledon.
Rybakina, a 23-year-old who represents Kazakhstan, reached her second final in a span of three major tournaments by beating Victoria Azarenka 7-6 (4), 6-3 at Melbourne Park on Thursday, signaling a rapid rise toward the top of tennis.
“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.”
That could come in handy Saturday, when she will face No. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Sabalenka reached her first Grand Slam title match at age 24 by beating unseeded Magda Linette 7-6 (1), 6-2 in Thursday’s second semifinal.
Sabalenka improved to 10-0 in 2023, winning all 20 sets she has contested this season.
More important, the victory over Linette gave Sabalenka her first taste of success in a Slam semi after going 0-3 at that stage until now, losing each previous attempt by a 6-4 score in the third set.
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 high-risk, high-reward play was evident against Linette, who had never before been past the third round in 29 appearances at majors.
On the men’s side, Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the final at the Australian Open for the first time by beating Karen Khachanov 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 in a semifinal.