“I am very happy and proud to be in the final here for the first time”, rejoiced Elena Rybakina after her victory in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, Thursday, January 26. She dominated Belarusian Victoria Azarenka (7-6, 6-3), seeded number 24, and double winner in Melbourne (2012-2013).
Until then, the Kazakh of Russian origin (22e) had never made it past the third round of the Australian Major in three appearances. The powerful 23-year-old will compete for the title on Saturday January 28 at 9:30 a.m. (Paris time) against Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (5e).
On the strength of her victory at Wimbledon in 2022, Rybakina approaches the final with serenity: “I have more experience now. I just want to come on the court and enjoy it. We’ll see how it goes: I’ll fight, I’ll do my best and I hope to win. »
First Grand Slam final for Sabalenka
In Melbourne, Sabalenka (5e) will play her first Grand Slam final, after dismissing the Polish Magda Linette in the semi-finals (7-6, 6-2). “I am very happy with this victory”said the Belarusian. “I didn’t start the match very well, but I found my rhythm from the tie-break, I gained confidence and I started to let go of my shots”she analyzed.
During the last three editions of the Australian Major, Sabalenka’s journey had stopped in the round of 16. However, the 24-year-old right-hander has already played and won an Australian Open final: it was in 2021, in doubles – she was then associated with the Belgian Elise Mertens.
Will she be able to handle the pressure of the event? “Being in the final is an incredible experience. I hope it will help me for Saturday”slipped the one who expects a “great battle”, against Rybakina. Sabalenka has still not lost a single set during this season, which began with a title in Adelaide. With this constancy, she can afford to dream.