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Australian Open tennis: Rybakina, Sabalenka clinch spots in women's final

Elena Rybakina (pictured) of Kazakhstan will meet Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the 2023 Australian Open women's singles final. Photo by Fazry Ismail/EPA-EFE
1 of 6 | Elena Rybakina (pictured) of Kazakhstan will meet Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in the 2023 Australian Open women's singles final. Photo by Fazry Ismail/EPA-EFE

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka and Kazakhstani Elena Rybakina each won their semifinal matches in straight sets to reach the 2023 Australian Open women's singles final Thursday in Melbourne.

Rybakina, the Wimbledon 2022 champion, edged two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-6(4), 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena. The No. 22 seed totaled nine aces, 30 winners, totaled 21 unforced errors and converted 5 of 11 break points in the one-hour, 41-minute match.

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Rybakina will meet Sabalenka in the women's finale Saturday in Melbourne.

"I'm super happy and proud of my team," Rybakina said in an on-court interview broadcast on ESPN. "Without them, it would be difficult to be here. I'm super happy to be in the final and to play one more time here."

Azarenka (No. 24) totaled three aces, 26 winners, totaled 27 unforced errors and converted 3 of 8 break points. Rybakina also beat No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland, No. 13 Danielle Collins of the United States and No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia en route to the finals.

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Sabalenka, who will make her first Grand Slam final appearance, beat Magda Linette of Poland 7-6(1), 3-1. The No. 5 seed totaled six aces, 33 winners and converted 3 of 7 break points.

Sabalenka beat No. 12 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and No. 26 Elise Mertens of Belgium, among others, en route to the women's finale.

The unseeded Linette edged No. 4 Caroline Garcia of France, No. 16 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, and No. 19 Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia en route to the semifinals. She totaled one ace, nine winners and converted 1 of 4 break points against Sabalenka in her Grand Slam semifinal debut.

No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece will meet No. 18 Karen Khachanov of Russia in the first of two men's singles semifinals. No. 4 Novak Djokovic of Serbia will face American Tommy Paul in the second semifinal.

Men's semifinal coverage will start at 10:30 p.m. EST Thursday on ESPN and ESPN+. The second semifinal will air at 3:30 a.m. Friday on the same platforms.

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Rybakina will face Sabalenka at 3:30 a.m. Saturday on ESPN and ESPN+. The men's final will air at the same time Sunday on the same platforms.

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