Power hitters Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina are ready to light up Melbourne Park

Rybakina’s coach Stefano Vukov is an unabashed admirer. “She listens, listens a lot. It’s very rare, I think,” he said.

“She’s 100 percent involved in the sport, in what she’s doing. Very calm, stoic I would say, if that’s the right word?

“But a darling, definitely, really, really, with a great family, great parents. No one really pressures them. Well, I mean super easy to manage.”

Like her competitor, Aryna Sabalenka brings a power play into the final.

Like her competitor, Aryna Sabalenka brings a power play into the final.Credit:Getty Images

Sabalenka, who is on a 10-match winning streak and is yet to lose a set in Australia, will not consider winning in Melbourne as a ‘neutral’, which is a reality for her at all Slams after losing post-conflict tennis functionality steps began not to officially recognize Russia and Belarus.

Arina Sabalenka.

Arina Sabalenka.Credit:Getty Images

She’s not dodging the question, it’s just that trading hypotheses doesn’t work for her.

“Let’s talk about it … if I win,” said the always cheerful Sabalenka, who defeated Poland’s Magda Linette 7:6 (7:1), 6:2 in the semifinals.

And one more comment, delivered with a smile: “If, if, if, I don’t like to use ‘if’. I just want to work for it, yes, do my best. If I win you can ask that question and I will answer.”

But missing Wimbledon cut a nerve for her and others. It was a time of genuine frustration and irritation.

“Oh no, I didn’t see Wimbledon last year. I felt really bad about it and I didn’t see Wimbledon at all,” said Sabalenka.

However, she admits she took a quick look at the TV to see her opponent’s breakthrough in the final against Ons Jabeur.

“I mean [I saw a] a bit of the final just because I worked out in the gym,” admitted Sabalenka. “That was great tennis”

That was it – and the moment when Rybakina became not just a promising guy, but a star of the game.

Sabalenka’s story in Melbourne was about successfully putting the pieces together in her high-octane game.


A former world No. 2 whose service problems often grab the headlines, she’s the tennis equivalent of a “heater” at the roulette table. Everything she touches turns to gold.

Sabalenka no longer consults a psychologist, a decision she feels very comfortable with.

“I spoke to my psychologist and said, ‘Look, I feel like I have to take care of this myself,’ because every time I hope someone will solve my problem, it doesn’t solve my problem,” she said .

Elena Rybakina.

Elena Rybakina.Credit:Eddie Jim

“I just have to take that responsibility and deal with it. Yes, I am not working with a psychologist.″⁣

Typically, the next comment came with a hearty laugh—a trait central to their demeanor. “Im mine [own] Psychologist.”

Pressed further, Sabalenka reflected on her ability to stay level. “I talk to my team a lot. Also with my family,” she said. “I think I know myself pretty well. I know how to deal with my feelings.”

While Sabalenka’s serve undoubtedly sings a song, Rybakina has plenty to offer in this department as well, which easily identifies her strongest weapon. “Yeah, sure it’s my serve,” she said.

The statistics don’t lie either. Rybakina has the fastest serve speed in the women’s court at 195 km/h and the highest number of aces of any woman (45), ahead of second-best Karolina Pliskova (31).

Sabalenka is third (29 aces) and most importantly has limited her double fault count to just 22 for the tournament. She is indeed a new player.

Rybakina has won a total of 420 points, with 158 winners, most on the forehand side (56).

In contrast, Sabalenka is getting bigger, pinning 196 winners from a total of 414 points won. That’s going well.

The ingredients have come together for a women’s decider that will go the distance, momentarily letting either Sabalenka or Rybakina shine bright, regardless of color, creed, or flag.

https://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/power-hitters-sabalenka-and-rybakina-are-ready-to-light-up-melbourne-park-20230127-p5cfuo.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Power hitters Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina are ready to light up Melbourne Park

Ryan Sederquist

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