MELBOURNE: No.5 seed Aryna Sabalenka booked her place in her first Grand Slam final with a win over Magda Linette in the semi-finals of the ongoing Australian Open here at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.
Sabalenka delivered a sublime performance to oust Linette 7-6(1), 6-2 to book her place in the final. In total, Sabalenka fired 33 winners to Linette’s nine, outweighing her 25 unforced errors.
The 1-hour, 33-minute contest was Sabalenka’s third win in as many meetings over Linette, but easily the tightest.
The first set’s fourth game proved crucial. In contrast to Sabalenka’s hasty blunders, Linette had a defined counter punching strategy and good serving when she first entered the match. But with Linette serving at 2-1 and 40-0, Sabalenka cooled down and used careful point creation to break back for 2-2.
Linette continued to play at a high level for the remainder of the set, but Sabalenka’s weight of stroke allowed her to step it up and win the tiebreak.
In the second set, Sabalenka quickly took a double-break advantage and then persevered to fend off any potential tiebreakers. At 4-1, she held for 5-1 after fending off three break-back points, the third of which she saved with one of her six total aces.
In the following encounter, Linette saved three match points as Sabalenka’s mistake total increased once more. Sabalenka converted her fourth match point with a strong one-two punch, serving out the match at the first opportunity.
Sabalenka will face Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in a final who advanced to her second major final, defeating former No.1 Victoria Azarenka 7-6(4), 6-3 on Thursday.
“Overall I felt like I was handling her serve actually pretty well. Couple shots after that, I wasn’t adjusting well.
Some balls were coming slow. Some balls were coming faster. I felt like I wasn’t really focusing on what I have to do. Kind of misjudged a lot of balls,” WTA.com quoted Azarenka as saying.
“I couldn’t get free points on my serve that easy like during the day when I played the matches. I knew that I need just to adjust. I was doing the correct things. It was just a matter to be more focused on these important moments.
In the end, I just was playing point by point no matter score. Everything went well,” Rybakina said. (ANI)