Elena Rybakina: Why the quiet girl is set to dominate Grand Slam tennis
Seven-time Major winner Mats Wilander has backed Elena Rybakina to make ten Grand Slam finals in five years.
Wilander believes that the Kazakhstan No 1 has the tools and temperament to be a consistent big tournament threat.
Rybakina dismantled two-time Australian Open champions Victoria Azarenka in her semi-final despite having to adjust to slower conditions.
She is ranked lower than her finals opponent Aryna Sabalenka, but considering how she has reached the championship match, nobody is writing off Rybakina.
Wilander believes Rybakina will become a regular feature of Grand Slam championship matches.
“It’s huge now, but in five years it’s not huge, because she’s going to make 10 Grand Slam finals with that kind of game and personality,” said Eurosport expert Wilander.
“She’s so calm and mellow throughout, she’s just starting out. The tournament isn’t over, it’s the semi-finals, and the goal is to win the tournament and win many more of these.”
Pundit Laura Robson observed that Elena Rybakina’s straight sets win came despite some inaccurate execution from the 23-year-old and suggesting she is capable of being nearly unstoppable on hard courts and grass.
“I thought her forehand and first serve were off tonight,” said Robson.
“It just wasn’t quite the percentages we’re used to seeing from her. But if that’s her on a bad day, that’s a really good sign, to come through in straight sets against Azarenka, who was giving it everything.
“This is going to be one of many Grand Slam finals for Rybakina.”
The only element of Rybakina’s game that Robson questioned is the approach of her coach, who was again animated from the player box during the semi-final match.
“I don’t know how she deals with her coach, because he seems so negative on the side, but that must be how they communicate,” said Robson.
“Obviously it worked, because she was able to make some changes during the match.
“He had his head in his hands every time she missed a ball. There was always some reaction. Maybe she doesn’t see it, but I thought it was really obvious.
“I saw an interview he did where he said from the side, he’s looking to give her a lot of energy, but he didn’t specify what kind of energy. Maybe this is something they’ve talked about, but personally, I would not like it.”
Tim Henman noted that Rybakina’s athleticism has given her a calm confidence.
“On Rybakina’s personality, she doesn’t panic, playing point after point with a clear mindset,” he said.
“The first set was always going to be crucial, especially after the break of serve. Rybakina’s power and athleticism from the back of the court wore Azarenka down.”
READ MORE: Aryna Sabalenka books power battle with Elena Rybakina in Australian Open final
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