Rybakina breezes into Australian Open semi-finals

Jago News Desk Published: 24 January 2023, 03:34 PM
Rybakina breezes into Australian Open semi-finals
Photo: Getty Images via BBC

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina swept past Jelena Ostapenko to reach her first Australian Open semi-final.

Rybakina fired 11 aces and 24 winners as she claimed a dominant 6-2 6-4 victory over Latvia's Ostapenko.

The Kazakh wrapped up victory in one hour and 19 minutes following a lengthy rain delay on Rod Laver Arena.

Rybakina, seeded 22nd, will face either American world number three Jessica Pegula or two-time champion Victoria Azarenka for a place in the final.

"I'm super happy to be in the semi-finals for the first time," said Rybakina, the youngest player left in the women's draw.

"Of course I was nervous, especially in the last game. I'm super happy I managed the emotions and I played really well today."

Read More: Injured Nadal out in Australian Open second round

Despite earning the most prestigious title of her career with her surprise success at Wimbledon, Rybakina dropped to 25th in the world - where she remains - because ranking points were not awarded at the grass court major.

She subsequently spoke about not feeling like a Grand Slam champion and began her Melbourne campaign on court 13 rather than a show-court.

Restored to the main stage at Melbourne Park, she followed up her stunning win over top seed Iga Swiatek with another devastating display against 2017 French Open winner Ostapenko.

"I think I got all the experience at Wimbledon and it's helping me now this time here in Australia. I know what to expect," Rybakina said.

Read More: Four-time Slam champion Osaka announces pregnancy

"[I'm] feeling good on the court and really enjoying every match I'm playing here."

In a meeting between two of the three major champions still standing among the last eight, Rybakina made a confident start as she broke 17th seed Ostapenko's serve in the opening game.

She set up another opportunity in game five with her powerful shot-making before play was suspended by rain, returning after a wait of around half an hour to clinch a double break lead and ultimately serve out the set under the roof.

Ostapenko threatened a fightback with a break at the start of set two but Rybakina swiftly extinguished those hopes, recording successive breaks in reply to bring her second major semi-final into focus.

She went on to seal the match in fitting fashion, sending down a final ace to extend her tournament-leading tally to 35.

Source: BBC