Elena Rybakina, Aryna Sabalenka promise power-packed Australian Open final

Elena Rybakina Australian Open

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan celebrates after winning against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in their women’s singles semi-final on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 26, 2023. (Photo by Paul CROCK/ AFP)

Two of the most famous players in women’s tennis went head to head as Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina clashed in the Australian Open final on Saturday in Melbourne.

Belarusian number 5 seed Sabalenka is in prolific form and has the opportunity to win the first Grand Slam.

The 24-year-old became the focus of attention under the Rod Laver Arena with a 10-match unbeaten streak in Australia, won the Adelaide International and is yet to lose a set in 2023.

She has beaten Wimbledon champion Rybakina in all three previous encounters.

Rybakina, 23, made it through the draw calmly, unfazed by her opening match being disregarded as she was transported to the wilds of Court 13 of Melbourne Park.

The Russia-born tennis player, who currently represents Kazakhstan, already has three Grand Slam champions en route to the final, including world number one Iga Swiatek.

Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka follow Rybakina’s dominant serve, which has taken down 45 aces so far, more than any other serve.

Rybakina’s graceful power comes at times with ease, emanating from precise tackles and precise timing.

Sabalenka is more brutal, her muscles creating spin and sending the ball across the court.

It’s a trait that Sabalenka has always possessed but is often thwarted by her vulnerable nerves.

But not this year when she finally won a Slam semi-final on her fourth attempt against unseeded Pole Magda Linette.

Sabalenka turned the tide by working tirelessly last year with her coaches, a sports psychologist and a biomechanical expert.

Sabalenka said: “I tried to scream less after some bad points or some errors. “I’m just trying to keep myself, stay calm, just think about the next point.

“I’m still screaming ‘C’mon!’ and all that. Just less negative emotions.

‘Face to face with it’

Sabalenka is now so confident in handling her emotions – shown when she smoothly hit back when she was 2-0 down in the first set against Linette – that she spoke to the house his sports psychology.

“I realized that no one but me would help,” Sabalenka said.

“I talked to my psychologist and said, ‘Listen, I feel like I have to solve that problem on my own because every time I hope that someone will fix my problem, the That doesn’t solve my problem.’

“I just have to take this responsibility and I have to deal with that.”

Rybakina, the 22nd seed, will be brimming with confidence heading into the second major final in the past seven months.

She lost just one set during the two weeks of the Australian Open, and that was against last year’s runner-up Danielle Collins.

But if her first serve drops her, Rybakina could be under pressure, as happened to the belligerent Azarenka in the semifinals when she was broken serve three times.

But she’s more than just a big serveer and has enough all-court games to avoid the most danger – her wide reach and ability to hit winners on both flanks keep her out of trouble.

With an important victory achieved, Rybakina believes the experience will give her an advantage.

Rybakina said: “Everything is new at Wimbledon. “Now I more or less understand what to expect.


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