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[22] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) def [17] Jelena Ostapenko (LVA) 6-2, 6-4

Elena Rybakina has moved into her first Australian Open semi-final after a clinical victory over Jelena Ostapenko, and now firms as one of the lead contenders for the women’s title.

Rybakina continued her dominant form – which saw her record victories over 2022 finalist Danielle Collins and world number one Iga Swiatek – to overcome the former Roland Garros champion in one hour and nineteen minutes.

“I played really well today. I think that overall, the match was very solid from me,” Rybakina said in her post-match press conference.

“[I’m] super happy to be in the semi-finals.”

After taking a 3-1 lead in the first set, play on Rod Laver Arena was stopped due to rain, causing a 30-minute hold-up as ball kids came out to dry the court with towels.

Unphased by the delay and the shift in playing conditions, Rybakina continued to overpower her Latvian opponent, hitting twelve winners to seven in the opening set, and winning all but one point behind her first serve.

“Of course, the conditions were different, but you expect that it can happen in Australia,” Rybakina told Jelena Dokic on-court.

“In the morning you have one weather and then in a few hours it changes so you have to be ready, always.”

“That’s the beauty of the sport, everyone needs to adapt. I think I did really well from the beginning of the match and then continued through the first set.”

As the level lifted in the second set, the reigning Wimbledon champion continued to dominate on serve, ultimately hitting her first strike 23km/h faster on average than the 17th seed.

“I would say that I’ve always served big, but for sure when I started to work with my coach, we did a lot of changes on the technique [and] I gained even more power,” Rybakina said.

“It's my weapon on the court.”

Rybakina also applied constant pressure to the Ostapenko serve, perfectly evidenced by a forehand return winner she hit, straight after being broken for the first time in the match.

The Kazakh will now face the winner of Jessica Pegula and Victoria Azarenka in a semi-final on Thursday and plans to tune in tonight as the pair face off at 7pm on Rod Laver Arena.

“For sure, I’m going to watch my opponents, but at the same time, I need to forget about tennis, and then prepare for another tough match and battle,” Rybakina said.

Meanwhile for Ostapenko, a brilliant Australian Open campaign comes to an end – one which saw her return to a major quarterfinal for the first time since 2018.

The 25-year-old dropped just one set in her first four encounters – including a major scalp over seventh seed Coco Gauff – and will take many positives from a bounce back fortnight.

“I can take only positive things out of [this event], because I feel my game was really good all the matches except maybe today,” Ostapenko said.

“[I can] just move forward and work, and I think I will play better if I do the right things.”


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