Elena Rybakina achieves remarkable feat during Australian Open

She overpowered Victoria Azarenka in straight sets to reach the Australian Open final on Thursday

By Web Desk
January 26, 2023
Rybakina won their semi-final 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 — AFP

Elena Rybakina has become the first female player to defeat three former Grand Slam champions, Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka, in a single edition of the Australian Open since Jennifer Capriati in 2001.

Wimbledon champion Rybakina overpowered Victoria Azarenka in straight sets to reach the Australian Open final on Thursday.

Rybakina won their semi-final 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 and will meet Aryna Sabalenka or Magda Linette in Saturday´s final.

Azarenka, who won the Grand Slam in 2012 and 2013, was beaten in 1hr 41min in blustery conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The 22nd seed Rybakina had already beaten reigning French and US Open champion Iga Swiatek in the fourth round and 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park.

And after a tight first set, the Moscow-born 23-year-old stretched away to account for a third Grand Slam champion.

"I´m super happy to be in the final. Today it was a bit tougher for me because it was different conditions," said Rybakina, who represents Kazakhstan.

"I couldn´t play really aggressive tennis. The ball was not going so much, but I´m happy that in the end I managed to win.

"I´ll try my best in the final of course."

Rybakina won in straight sets when the pair played at Indian Wells last year, their only previous meeting.

Veteran Azarenka, 33, was largely on the back foot again against the grace and power of Rybakina, who was in her first Melbourne Park semi-final.

Rybakina reached the last four largely on the back of her powerful serving, having struck 35 aces in her five matches at Melbourne Park, more than any other player.