The stage is set for Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina to meet in the final stage of the 2023 Australian Open. The two have been dominant in Melbourne with Sabalenka yet to drop a set and Rybakina only dropping one.
Sabalenka made the semifinals at 2021 Wimbledon and the US Open, then returned to the semifinals in 2022 in New York. However, this would be his first ever Grand Slam final.
“I’m not going to do anything extra. It’s okay to feel a little nervous,” she said during Thursday’s press conference, “It’s a big tournament, big final. If you’re going to start trying to do something about it, it’s going to be big. I’ll just leave it at that, it’s okay to feel nervous about the match. Is.”
Whatever she’s doing is clearly working. Sabalenka has now won 10 matches in a row, including a career best 20 consecutive sets.
Sabalenka has won three of four matches in the all-time series against Rybakina, with the only meeting at a Grand Slam in 2021 coming at the Wimbledon round of 16. Rybakina won the most recent match, an exhibition at the United States. Arab Emirates last year.
Sabalenka said of her opponent, “She’s playing great tennis, serving well, so I have to be there and work for it. Put her under pressure.”
The 23-year-old Ryabkina has played a series of tough opponents in this tournament. She was responsible for causing an upset in the fourth round against heavy favorite and World No. 1 Iga Swiatek. She made it to the final by defeating two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-3 in one hour and 41 minutes.
She won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last year. Rybakina said that experience made her feel more comfortable in her deep run at the Australian Open, but added that in the end it all comes down to staying focused.
“Everything was new at Wimbledon. Now I more or less understand what to expect. It’s nervous no matter what because it’s the final.” He said, “As well as semi-finals, you are always nervous before the match. But this time I think I was more focused on the match, what I have to do, and maybe not thinking about what is going to happen or what will happen. Going to do.”
The final will be a power battle as Rybakina and Sabalenka have similar playing styles. Rybakina said for the baseline it would be about playing deep and trying to get ahead. She also expects longer rallies than usual.
Rybakina said, “It’s going to be a tough fight. I might not have to serve that big, that fast.” “It doesn’t really matter, the speed. It’s important to have good placement on the serve because in these conditions, it’s not easy to serve at full strength, the ball isn’t really going.”
The match is set for Saturday at 3:30PM ET and will be available on ESPN.