TennisSection previews the 2023 Australian Open as Elena Rybakina takes on Victoria Azarenka in the semifinal on Thursday, January 26, 2023.
Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina will play two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka in a mouthwatering semifinal on Thursday. Who will prevail?
Elena Rybakina was so unlucky that her Wimbledon triumph last summer did not count for any ranking points. She would have been a Top 10 player and with it, garner a lot more recognition. But nonetheless, Rybakina put her down and let her tennis do the talking at the Australian Open, as she scored a major upset over top seed Iga Swiatek in the fourth round – a result that heralds the Kazakh as a potential challenger to Swiatek’s No. 1 ranking. A 6-2 6-4 win over Jelena Ostapenko continued Rybakina’s dominance and now finds herself just one match away from returning to another Grand Slam final. Will she end Victoria Azarenka’s dream run?
Victoria Azarenka, for her part, scored a stunning win over World No. 3 Jessica Pegula and reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for the first time since winning the second of her two titles here ten years ago. Azarenka’s plan was to get Pegula on the move, and the American is not the cleanest ball striker on the run. Pegula’s 31 unforced errors proved costly as Azarenka shut the gates in routine fashion, winning 6-4 6-1.
Elena Rybakina leads Victoria Azarenka 1-0 in their head-to-head. The tall Kazakh won that meeting in Indian Wells last year in straight sets. Azarenka is a quality returner and has snuffed the challenge of big-hitting Madison Keys in the first week. And she’s also aggressive in her first return shot which could unsettle Rybakina in their semifinal match. But I do worry for Azarenka. She has had moments where her decision-making has been subpar and has given away points cheaply on her own serve. Rybakina looks the more assured and composed baseliner in this one and we fancy the Kazakh to serve her way into the Australian Open final.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Elena Rybakina in 2 sets
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