Fixture: (5) Aryna Sabalenka vs (22) Elena Rybakina
Date: January 28, 2023
Tournament: Australian Open 2023
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt
Prize money: A$76,500,000
Live telecasts: USA - ESPN | UK - Eurosport | India - Sony Six, Sony Ten & Sony Liv
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina preview
After a fortnight of enthralling tennis action, the field at the 2023 Australian Open has come down to two — Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, who will now square off in the summit clash of the year's first Grand Slam.
Sabalenka, the fifth seed at this year's tournament, has been in splendid form since the start of 2023. She is a 10/10 in terms of the matches won so far and is in fact yet to drop a single set. Playing at Melbourne Park, she has ousted the likes of Donna Vekic, Belinda Bencic and Elise Mertens.
The Belarusian was in top form once again during her semi-final encounter against the tournament's breakout player Magda Linette, fending off the giant-killer in two close sets 7-6 (1), 6-2.
Rybakina, much like her opponent, has proven too strong for the rest of the field at Melbourne Park so far. Five of the Kazakh's six wins at the tournament have come against top-25 opponents, including her stunning upset over World No. 1 Iga Swiatek.
The only time that Rybakina has been pushed was during her third-round contest against Danielle Collins. However, she showed incredible fighting skills to overcome the 2022 finalist in three sets.
The same was also on the showcase in the opening set of her semi-final contest against two-time former winner Victoria Azarenka as the Kazakh edged it in a tiebreaker before closing out a straight-sets win.
While winning a second Slam is often considered the hardest, given the amount of attention and pressure that the first win brings, the Kazakh has somehow managed to once again fly under the radar and could easily go all the way.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka leads Elena Rybakina in their current head-to-head by a comfortable 3-0 margin. That being said, all three meetings between the duo have been close affairs and have gone the distance.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina odds
(Odds sourced from BetMGM)
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina prediction
Both Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina have put up incredible displays of power-hitting over their last six matches. Their big serve and clean ball striking from the baseline have proven too hot to handle for their opponents. Fans can expect quite a few fireworks in the summit clash as well.
Rybakina's run at Wimbledon gave the tennis world a glimpse of not just her raw talent, but also her composure and mental strength.
The youngster did not bat an eye even when playing against much-more experienced opponents on the biggest of stages. She has once again managed to go about her usual serve big, hit bigger business and put together a clean run here in Melbourne.
For Sabalenka, consistency and composure are newfound virtues. Her run here has clearly shown that the Belarusian can produce her best tennis over prolonged periods when in the right frame of her mind.
Sabalenka, however, remains the more volatile of the two players. Luckily for her though, she is also the more powerful off the ground. Unlike Rybakina, who clearly prefers her backhand side, the Belarusian can produce the same amount of pace off both wings and she will need to channel all that positivity into her game.
Fans can expect yet another balanced performance from Rybakina but the outcome of this contest is likely to be decided by the level that Sabalenka manages to produce. She may feel some nerves playing in her first Slam final but Belarusian has shown the discipline that was lacking in her game and that may just be the difference-maker.
Pick: Sabalenka to win in three sets