Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka powered past surprise semifinalist Magda Linette 7-6(1) 6-2 to reach her maiden Grand Slam final at the 2023 Australian Open.
Polish world No.45 Linette, who had never before been past the third round of a Grand Slam, started the match with a 2-0 lead, but Sabalenka quickly got the encounter back on serve and played a flawless, fearless tiebreak to win her 19th consecutive set this season.
The 24-year-old Sabalenka raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set. Linette did give the Belarusian a hard time by saving three match points on her serve to stay in Rod Laver Arena a bit longer, however, it was evident that the encounter wouldn’t suddenly turn into a nail-biter. In the following game, Sabalenka comfortably served out the win, converting her fourth match point with a forehand winner.
The 30-year-old Linette is projected to move to a career-best No.22 WTA ranking. Sabalenka will return to No.2.
Sabalenka will contest her first Grand Slam final against reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who overcame two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka earlier on Thursday.
Sabalenka leads Rybakina 3-0 in head-to-head stats, but their last meeting was a three-setter at Wimbledon 2021, which we can consider to be a long time ago, before the Kazakh player was a major champion.