Friday, January 27, 2023

Rybakina and Sabalenka to compete for Australian Open singles championship

Magda Linette, the older (30) of two breakout stars of the 2023 Australian Open, playing in her first major semifinal, had a huge task--playing against the huge-hitting Aryna Sabalenka, not to mention a Sabaklenka who has tamed the long-time problem that she has with her serve. Yet, during the first set, it looked like either of them could win. Sabalenka won that set in a tiebreak, and then--as very good players often do--broke away and won the second set 6-2. In fact, she broke away in the first set tiebreak, which she won, 7-1.

Linette, who says that she has done a lot of mental work on her game, attracted attention in Melbourne not only because she was playing superbly, but because she's the Polish player who isn't Iga Swiatek, and she's also the one who made it to the final four. World number 1 Swiatek lost in the round of 16 to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, which brings me to another matter. Unlike many tennis fans, I don't need a big rivalry in order to enjoy tennis. Yes, Monica and Steffi were exciting, and Martina and Chris were (and are) legendary, but I can easily live without a major rivalry on the tour. But if there's going to be one, I'm all in with Swiatek and Rybakina.

Rybakina won her semifinal by defeating two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who has been playing some of her best tennis at this event. The Wimbledon champion, who has a tournament first serve win percentage of almost 80 (!), hit ten aces and 30 winners, and broke Azarenka five times. It was a was a great display of tennis from both women.

Paths to the final:

round 1--def. Elisabetta Cocciaretto
round 2--def. Kaja Juvan
round 3--def. Danielle Collins (13)
round of 16--def. Iga Swiatek (1)
quarterfinals--def. Alona Ostapenko (17)
semifinals--def. Victoria Azarenka (24)

round 1--def. Tereza Martincova
round 2--def. Shelby Rogers
round 3--def. Elise Mertens (26)
round of 16--def. Belinda Bencic (12)
quarterfinals--def. Donna Vekic
semifinals--def. Magda Linette

In claiming victories over Swiatek, Ostapenko and Azarenka, Rybakina became the first player to defeat three major champions at a single Australian Open event since Martina Hingis did it in 2001.

Meanwhile, in doubles, top seeds and defending champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have reached the final, in which they will face off against Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who upset 2nd seeds Coco Gauff and Jessie Pegula in the semifinals. And Luisa Stefani and are the 2023 mixed doubles champions. They defeated Sania Mirza (playing in her final major) and Rohan Bopanna in the final.

And in wheelchair tennis, top seed and defending champion Diede de Groot has reached the final, and will play familiar opponent and 2nd seed Yui Kamiji. And top seeds and defending champions de Groot and Aniek Van Koot are the 2023 Australian Open wheelchair doubles champions. They defeated Dana Mathewson and Lucy Shuker in the final.

In junior competition, 7th seed Mirra Andreeva will compete against 9th seed Alina Korneeva for the championship.

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