Home Sports Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka face off in Melbourne final

Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka face off in Melbourne final

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Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina will meet fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka in the Australian Open final on Saturday as she bids for a second Grand Slam title.

It is a second major final in six months for Kazakhstan’s Rybakina, while Belarusian Sabalenka is contesting her first Grand Slam singles showpiece.

“Everything was new at Wimbledon,” world number 25 Rybakina said.

“It’s nervous no matter what because it’s a final [but] now I more or less understand what to expect.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s world number one Alfie Hewett will attempt to add a first Australian Open title to his tally of six Grand Slam wheelchair singles titles.

Hewett, 25, plays 16-year-old Tokito Oda of Japan a day after winning a 16th Grand Slam doubles title alongside Gordon Reid at Melbourne Park.

The women’s final takes place from 08:30 GMT, with BBC Radio 5 Sports live providing commentary (UK only) alongside live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Rybakina has another shot at a major title as she contests her second final in three Grand Slam tournaments.

The 22nd seed has been one of the most unheralded Wimbledon champions in recent history as a result of her low profile and a lower-than-expected ranking, caused by points not being awarded at the All England Club last year.

Despite being made to begin her tournament on a small outside court, she has utilized the talent that took her to glory at SW19 to battle her way through an unfavorable draw.

The 23-year-old knocked out world number one Iga Swiatek in the last 16, either side of notable wins against 2022 runner-up Danielle Collins and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

It is set to be a final dominated by powerful hitting, with Rybakina firing 45 aces so far and Sabalenka hitting 196 winners.

Sabalenka took a huge step in her career by beating unseeded Pole Magda Linette in the semi-finals to set up the meeting with Rybakina.

The world number five had lost all three of her previous Grand Slam semi-finals, reaching the last four at Wimbledon in 2021 as well as at the 2021 and 2022 US Opens.

The 24-year-old has not dropped a set this year, winning all 10 of her matches and clinching the title at the Adelaide International warm-up event before the first major of the year.

Sabalenka has long been tipped to win a singles Slam title but has often crumbled in key pressure moments. However, she believes taking control of her emotions both on and off the court has led to her improved form.

“I realized that nobody other than me will help. In pre-season, I spoke to my psychologist, saying: ‘Listen, I feel like I have to deal with that by myself, because every time hoping that someone will fix my problem, it’s not fixing my problem’,” Sabalenka said.

“I just have to take this responsibility and I just have to deal with that. I’m my psychologist.”


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