Elena Rybakina made Australian Open favourite despite poor record against Aryna Sabalenka

Australian Open

Elena Rybakina is yet to beat Aryna Sabalenka in a singles contest having lost the last four meetings but has been made favourite for their Australian Open final clash on Saturday.

Former Top ten WTA star Barbara Schett has made Rybakina favourite against the backdrop of her incredibly dominant run to the final.

Rybakina cruised through the early rounds before demolishing the World No 1 in the Round of 16 and defeating former Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko.

No woman has been able to find an answer to Rybakina’s power and athleticism and Schett feels that the Kazakhstan No 1 is a different player from the last time she met Sabalenka.

Schett doubts that the four wins Sabalenka holds over Rybakina will be a factor in the big stage.

It is a first Grand Slam final for Sabalenka while Rybakina has the experience of winning the 2022 Championships Wimbledon behind her, and that might just be the difference.

“The women’s final at the Australian Open is between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina. Who would have thought that the two of them would meet in the final?

“Elena Rybakina, she has beaten the world No. 1 [Iga Swiatek] and former Grand Slam champions [Swiatek, Viktoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko] to get to the final and Aryna Sabalenka, she has not dropped a set this year and she also won the tournament in Adelaide.

“Now the head-to-head between the two of them is pretty one-sided, because Sabalenka leads 4-0. But will that come into play in the final?

“Rybakina has been in the final of a Grand Slam and she won that one – that was in Wimbledon last year.

“The two of them have very similar game styles – very aggressive, they both serve extremely well.

“Off the court they’re completely different. Sabalenka is outgoing, she’s laughing, she’s smiling, Rybakina is more of a shy person.”

Schett firmyl believes that Sabalenka cannot afford to be off the pace at the outset of the match.

“It’ll be really interesting what it will come down to,” she said. “I think the beginning of the match is going to be crucial.

“I give the edge to Elena Rybakina because she’s got this one Grand Slam title under her belt already.”

The women’s singles final of the Australian Open is scheduled to get underway at 08:30 (GMT) on Saturday 28 January 2023.

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