Rybakina and Sobolenko will fight for the title

Arina Sobolenko celebrates her semi-final victory over Magda Lynette and advances to her first Grand Slam final, which she will play against Elena Rybakina in Melbourne on Saturday. Martin Kip/AFP

Elena Rybakina, 25th in the world and the winner of Wimbledon last year, reached the final of the Australian Major first, dominating the Belarusian and two-time winner of Melbourne (2012, 2013) Victoria Azarenka (24th) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

“I am very happy and proud to have reached the final here for the first time,” commented she, who never made it past the third round of the tournament in three races. “Today was tough because the conditions didn’t allow the ball to be very fast,” explained the strong 23-year-old.

In the first set, the players exchanged serves twice. Thus, with the score 5:3 on the throw-in, Rybakina had a set point, but the Belarusian managed to break, after which she returned to the score 5:5. There, Azarenka had three break points in a row, but Rybakina scored five points in a row to take a 6-5 lead. However, she was unable to prevent Azarenka from bringing the round to a tie-break. Then the Kazakh of Russian origin broke away with a score of 6/4 and, taking advantage of the opponent’s double mistake, took the set. She then made a double break, took a 5–2 lead and filed for the match. She was unable to immediately complete the game and Azarenka repeated one of her late breaks, only to lose her own faceoff a few minutes later due to her 27th and final unforced error. Rybakina will enter her second Major final thanks to her experience at Wimbledon last year.

Another Belarusian

On Saturday, the Kazakh will face another Belarussian, Arina Sobolenko, who won her ticket to her first Grand Slam final after beating Poland’s Magda Lynette (45th). The 24-year-old 5th world chess player won 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 and is expecting a “big battle” with Rybakina. “I am very happy with this victory,” the Belarusian said. “I didn’t start the match very well, but in the tie-break I found my rhythm, gained confidence and started to release punches,” she analyzed.

Indeed, she was defeated by the Poles from the very beginning, but managed to come back to 2-2. Then, with Sobolenko leading 6-5, Lynette equalized and took the set to a tiebreak when the net deflected and sent the loose ball back into the court. But the Belarusian very clearly dominated the decisive game and in the future only increased her influence. She played five games in a row and led 5-1. There, on Lynette’s serve, she missed her first two match points by committing two unforced errors. But she didn’t flinch in her next serve game.

Sobolenko has remained in three playoffs in Melbourne in the last three draws. She has already played in three Grand Slam semi-finals (Wimbledon 2021, US Open 2021 and 2022), but failed to reach the final. But she has already played and won the final at the 2021 Australian Open in doubles, tied with Belgian Elisa Mertens. “Getting to the final is an incredible experience. I hope it will help me on Saturday,” she said, however, without much conviction. Sobolenko is still undefeated in a season that started with the Adelaide 1 title.

Source: AFP.

Source: L Orient Le Jour

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