History beckons at Melbourne Park for first time finalists

NO matter which way the Australian Open Women’s Singles Final goes this weekend, there will be a brand new, first time champion at Melbourne Park.

With first time Australian Open finalist Elena Rybakina and first time Grand Slam finalist Aryna Sabalenka winning through to this weekend’s decider, someone will create history at Rod Laver Arena.  

It may not be her first time in a Grand Slam decider, but it will be the first time Kazakh Rybakina features in one at Melbourne Park this weekend after she defeated Victoria Azarenka in the semi final.

After the Belarussian pushed her to a tiebreaker in the first set, Rybakina proved too strong in the second, winning the match 77 – 65, 6 – 3.

Rybakina blasted 10 aces in the match, while Azarenka’s serve let her down, conceding six double faults.

Conversely, the winner count was fairly even, with Rybakina finishing with only four more than Azarenka.

Speaking post match, it was impossible to wipe the smile off the Kazakh’s face as she spoke of how proud she was to make it this far.

“I’m super happy and proud, with my team also,” she said. “Without them it would be difficult to be here and I really thank you a lot.

“I got a lot of experience from Wimbledon (last year) and to be honest, I just want to come on court and really enjoy the moment, enjoy the atmosphere because it’s a really amazing thing to play in front of you guys so thank you so much.

“We’ll see how it’s going to go but for sure I try my best, I fight and hopefully I’m going to win.”

Meanwhile, after making the semi final at a Grand Slam before but not progressing to a final any of those times, it was forth time lucky for the Belarusian Sabalenka, who beat first time semi finalist Magda Linette to reach her first ever final.

After the first set went to a tiebreaker, Sabalenka was too strong in the second, winning the match 77 – 61, 6 – 2.

Sabalenka smashed six aces in the win compared to Linette’s one, but also hit over three times as many winners as the Pole did (33 versus 9).

Speaking post match it was clear how much the win meant to Sabalenka.

Choking back tears, she said “I’m super happy, super happy that I was able to win and I mean she’s [Linette] an unbelievable player. She played really great tennis and I’m just super happy right now.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s final, Sabalenka was fully aware of the challenge she has in front of her.

“Well she’s an amazing player,” Sabalenka said of Rybakina.  

“She’s playing great tennis, super aggressive and she’s already got one Grand Slam so she kind of had this experience before playing the final and it’s going to be a really great battle. I’m really looking forward to this final.”

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