Mats Wilander expects Elena Rybakina to make ’10 Grand Slam finals’

Australian Open

Former world No 1 Mats Wilander has tipped Elena Rybakina to make several more grand slam finals after the Wimbledon champion booked an Australian Open final showdown with Aryna Sabalenka.

Kazakhstan’s Rybakina beat Victoria Azarenka 7-6, 6-3 to set up a final with Belarusian fifth-seed Sabalenka. According to Swedish Eurosport pundit and former seven-time major winner Wilander, this is likely only the start of an incredible run.

“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 Wilander via Eurosport.

“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.”

Recently retired British tennis player Laura Robson, however, pointed out that it wasn’t a perfect semi-final for her despite it being settled in straight sets.

“I thought her forehand and first serve were off tonight,” she said.

“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.”

Robson was bemused by the demeanour of Rybakina’s coach, Stefano Vukov, who was visibly nervous during the 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.”

Another Eurosport pundit, Tim Henman, was full of praise for Rybakina. The former Wimbledon semi-finalist said: “On Rybakina’s personality, she doesn’t panic, playing point after point with a clear mindset.

“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.”

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By Leonard Solms