AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2023: RYBAKINA DEFEATS OSTAPENKO TO FACE AZARENKA IN SEMI FINAL
Elena Rybakina produced two straight sets to get through to the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time in her career after Jelena Ostapenko succumbed to her superior power in a 6-2 6-4.
The match which lasted one hour and 21 minutes was delayed for some time due to rain midway through the first set. It wasn’t enough to deter Rybakina from reaching the last for the first time for Kazakhstan.
The reigning Wimbledon champion who is on a quest for a second Grand Slam title started smartly in the first set. She broke the Latvian in the very first game and maintained discipline, checking Ostapenko’s pressure and aggressive play. She responded with a blistering return on her second serve to earn a deserved break point but Latvian fell to the superior power of the Kazakhstani in the game.
The atmosphere and the weather gradually gave signs of rain when the match was tilting to higher tempo which saw the Ostapenko make several unforced errors. At the junction, Rybakina had another break point, it was obvious the match was going to be delayed and that did happen as the rain started pouring down and was delayed to shut roof.
Prior to the stoppage, it was obvious the majority of the spectators at the stadium were not happy due to the anticipatory rain. When the visibility got better the match restarted. Ostapenko who defeated Swiatek in the fourth round, was quick and saved one break point. But Rybakina was equal to the occasion with her ambition forcing the 17 seed to hit a backhand wide. Kazakhstan continued and was an impressive dominating play in the first set hitting 12 winners.
In the second set, Ostapenko played more aggressively to earn two break points in Rybakina’s first serve. Despite her aggressive intent to take control of the play, it was glaring Ostapenko was unable to sustain the tempo leaving the 23 -year-old to bounce back in the next game. The Latvian continued her poor showing on the forehand. At this junction Rybakina saved four break points to level at 2-2 before going on break in the fifth game. She went on to secure her country’s second semi -final Grand Slam holding tightly to remaining service games.
“I’m super happy to be in my first semi-final, it’s amazing to be in the semi-finals here,” Rybakina said after the match on court.
She further added that she was nervous especially in the last game but so happy that she managed with the emotions and played really well today (at the Rod Laver Arena),having fired 11 aces and 24 winners to claim a dominant 6-2 6-4 victory over Latvia’s Ostapenko!
Meanwhile, Victoria Azarenka stunned America’s Jessica Pegula in two straight sets to continue her quest for a third Australian Open Grand Slam title. She won 6-4 6-1 and will meet the youngest player in the women’s draw left in the competition.