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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Rybakina through to AO women’s semifinals

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Melbourne: Elena Rybakina is the first player through to the Australian Open 2023 women’s semifinals after triumphing in a battle of major champions.

The 22nd seed overpowered Jelena Ostapenko 6-2 6-4 in the one hour and 19 minute encounter on Rod Laver Arena, becoming the first woman representing Kazakhstan to reach the final four at Melbourne Park.

“I’m super happy to be first time in the semifinal,” said a jubilant Rybakina.

In humid conditions, Rybakina secured a break in the opening game – and dropped just one point in her first two service games.

The 22nd seed’s return game was deadly against Ostapenko, and with a cool demeanour, she punished the Latvian’s laggardly second serves.

Returning from a brief rain delay, the Kazakh clinched a double break advantage as she overpowered her opponent.

Comfortable at the net, she punched out crisp volleys to show off the prowess that has also helped take her to the third round of the women’s doubles competition.

A composed Rybakina closed out the opening set when an Ostapenko forehand return sailed long.

The Latvian began to find her targets in the second set, letting out a roar of “C’mon!” after breaking her opponent for a 2-0 lead, AO reported.

But an unfazed Rybakina quickly turned the tables against her rival, nabbing the next four games and saving four break points in the process.

Ostapenko produced flashes of brilliance, but it was her younger foe who better harnessed power and precision with a semifinals berth in sight.

Stepping up to the baseline, Rybakina slammed down an ace to take victory on her third match point.

The Kazakh had no problems with the fact that rain turned the match into an indoor tussle under a closed roof.

Rybakina’s semifinal adversary will be decided in Tuesday night’s titanic showdown between third seed Jessica Pegula and two-time AO champion and 24th seed Victoria Azarenka.

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