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Rybakina topples Ostapenko to reach Australian Open semis

The 2022 Wimbledon champ backed up her upset of top-seeded Iga Swiatek with a swift takedown of Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals.

Rybakina Australian Open 2023 Rybakina Australian Open 2023 || AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Australian Open •Quarter-final • completed
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Taking the place of vanquished top seed Iga Swiatek in the Australian Open women’s singles draw has suited Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina quite well. The 2022 Wimbledon champion backed up her 6-4 6-4 takedown of Swiatek with another impressive victory on Tuesday in Melbourne, ending the hopes of Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, the No 17 seed, 6-2, 6-4 at Melbourne Park on Tuesday night.

Rybakina, ranked No 25, will face the winner of tonight’s second quarter-final on Rod Laver Arena, between American Jessica Pegula and Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, next.

The only entity that put a halt to the momentum of the 23-year-old on Tuesday night was inclement weather. Rain stopped play with Rybakina leading 3-1 40-30 in the opening set. The players went off while the roof was closed and the court was dried, and Rybakina didn’t skip a beat when they returned.

“It can happen in Australia, you never know,” Rybakina said of the isolated shower. “You have to be ready, always – that’s the beauty of this sport. Everybody needs to adapt and I think I did really well from the beginning of the match and then continuing through the first set.”

Upon return, it took Rybakina three points to lock up the double-break 4-1 lead, and she held serve the rest of the way to close out the set.

Ostapenko, playing in her first major quarter-final since 2018 at Wimbledon, certainly had her moments in the contest. She stepped out to a 2-0 lead, but couldn’t keep the momentum. Rybakina broke back for 2-1 then saved four break points to level at 2-all. The Kazakh then won the next two games, making it four on the trot for a 4-2 lead, and held serve the rest of the way, converting her third match point to close out the contest in one hour and 19 minutes.

“Of course I was nervous,” Stoic Rybakina admitted at the conclusion of the match. “Especially in the last game. To be honest, I’m not as nervous as before the match so I’m super happy that I managed with emotions and I played really well today.” 

Rybakina rifled 11 aces to just one for Ostapenko, and hit 24 winners against 19 for Ostapenko. She saved seven of eight break points and converted four of the eight opportunities that she earned.

The Kazakh won against Italian Elisabetta Cocciaretto (7-5, 6-3), Slovenian Kaja Juvan (6-2, 6-1), American Danielle Collins, the No 13 seed (6-2, 5-7, 6-2) and Pole Iga Swiatek, the top seed (6-4, 6-4) in the previous rounds.

Earlier in the tournament, Ostapenko, ranked No 17, won against Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska (6-4, 6-2), Hungarian Anna Bondar (7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-0), Ukrainian Kateryna Baindl (6-3, 6-0) and American Coco Gauff, the No 7 seed (7-5, 6-3).

Melbourne (Grand Slam), other last eight results (Melbourne Park, hard, USD 24.297.942, most recent results first):

  • Aryna Sabalenka vs. Donna Vekic
  • Karolina Pliskova vs. Magda Linette
  • Jessica Pegula vs. Victoria Azarenka
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