Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina is through to her first Australian Open semifinal with a confident 6-2 6-4 victory over Jelena Ostapenko.
The 22nd-seeded Rybakina fired 11 aces and 24 winners as she eased past the 17th-seeded Ostapenko in one hour and 19 minutes. It was a routine first set for Rybakina and she wasn’t interrupted by a delay of about half an hour for the roof to close at 3-1 due to rain. The Kazakh comfortably took a double break lead and dominated the first set.
The 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko briefly threatened a fightback at the start of the second set, but Rybakina quickly got back on the fast track to the semifinals and sealed the match with an ace to extend her tournament-leading tally to 35.
Next up for Rybakina, the youngest player left in the draw, will be the winner of the quarterfinal between Jessica Pegula and Victoria Azarenka.
It’s good to see Rybakina going far at the Australian Open, since her Wimbledon triumph had its disappointing side that made her enjoy that career milestone less. Namely, in the year 2022 Wimbledon players received no ranking points, as the WTA’s response to the tournament not allowing Russian and Belarusian players to participate, and Rybakina never experienced the ranking boost other Grand Slam champions benefit from.
The world No.25 even said: “I feel like I’m not the Wimbledon champion.” It was Rybakina’s dream to win Wimbledon, but since she made it happen in those circumstances, experience-wise it was not the best. Moreover, since she was born in Moscow, and is actually a Russian player who changed her citizenship to Kazakhstan years ago, there was also a lot of talk about the faulty system that Russian-born representatives of Kazakhstan inadvertently tricked this time.