Australian Open 2023 HIGHLIGHTS, Women’s Semifinals: Rybakina beats Azarenka, Sabalenka defeats Linette to set up final clash

Welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the Australian Open 2023 women’s singles semifinals on day 11 in Melbourne.

Updated : Jan 26, 2023 18:13 IST

Fifth-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka faces 22nd-seeded Kazakh and reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open 2023 women’s singles final on Saturday.
Fifth-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka faces 22nd-seeded Kazakh and reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open 2023 women’s singles final on Saturday.

Fifth-seeded Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka faces 22nd-seeded Kazakh and reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the Australian Open 2023 women’s singles final on Saturday.

Welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the Australian Open 2023 women’s singles semifinals on day 11. This was Nihit Sachdeva taking you through the action as it unfolded at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

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Australian Open 2023, January 27 schedule: Djokovic vs Paul, Tsitsipas faces Khachanov in semifinals

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Today’s women’s singles semifinals schedule
[22] Elena Rybakina (KAZ) bt [24] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) 7-6 (4), 6-3
[5] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) bt Magda Linette (POL) 7-6 (1) 6-2

SECOND SET (* denotes server)

Sabalenka* 6-2 Linette - Sabalenka serving for a place in the final. A double fault from the fifth seed - 15-all. A forehand winner from Sabalenka after a strong first serve - 30-15. It’s 30-all after an unforced forehand error from Sabalenka. Match point for Sabalenka with a T ace. A forehand winner to seal the deal! Aryna Sabalenka is through to her maiden Grand Slam final and will fight Elena Rybakina for the title!

Sabalenka 5-2 Linette* - Linette serving to stay in the set and match. Backhand return from Sabalenka on second serve goes long but she is still 30-15 up. She can see the finish line. Linette defends as well as she can but Sabalenka does manage to get one crosscourt backhand past her to earn two match points. Backhand from Sabalenka finds the net, still one more match point. And Linette saves another match point - deuce. However, Sabalenka does have a third match point after she forces a weak backhand shot from Linette. Third match point saved by Linette after a crosscourt forehand from Sabalenka goes long - deuce again. Backhand return from Sabalenko on second serve finds the net - game point for Linette. Defensive forehand lob from Sabalenka lands beyond the baseline. Linette holds!

Sabalenka* 5-1 Linette - Sabalenka serving to go 5-1 up. Linette with a chance to break back a Sabalenka overhits a couple of shots before the Pole finds one backhand winner down the line to go 40-15 up. Linette had the chance to convert second of those break points but her forehand, instead of going down the line, finds the net on its path - deuce. Third break point for Linette. Sabalenka saves it with an ace, wide into the ad court - deuce. Sabalenka holds!

Sabalenka 4-1 Linette* - Relentless stuff from Sabalenka. A scintillating backhand winner down the line to go 15-0 up. Linette can’t afford to go down by a double break. And looks like that might just happen as a loose forehand from Linette lands into the net - 0-40. Linette saves first break point with a forehand volley which just catches the inner sideline. However, Sabalenka converts the second one with a backhand slice.

Sabalenka* 3-1 Linette - Sabalenka consolidates the break as a crosscourt backhand from Linette goes wide at 40-30.

Sabalenka 2-1 Linette* - Backhand from Linette goes long and Sabalenka makes the first move as she goes up by a break.

Sabalenka* 1-1 Linette - An ace wide into the deuce court from Belarusian to go 30-15 up. Sabalenka holds.

Sabalenka 0-1 Linette* - Linette to serve first in the second set. From 30-0 up, Sabalenka makes a couple of heavy first serve returns and let’s the advantage go. Linette holds.

FIRST SET (* denotes server)

Tiebreaker (Sabalenka 7-1 Linette): Sabalenka with a 4-0 lead. Makes it 5-0 with an ace into the deuce court. Gorgeous tennis. Six set points for the Belarusian after an easy forehand winner down the line from the net. Linette saves one as a backhand lob from Sabalenka lands just long. Forehand return from Linette goes long and that’s it for the opening set. Sabalenka wins 7-6 (1)

Sabalenka 6-6 Linette* - Finally, some nervousness from Linette as she makes a double fault and is down 0-30 but manages to regroup and take the next three points. Lovely crosscourt forehand winner from Sabalenka - deuce. Linette outlasts Sabalenka in a 13-shot rally as she plays a round-the-net forehand to which Sabalenka replies with a forehand error. Linette holds with a backhand winner that just catches the inner side line. Tiebreaker, here we go!

Sabalenka* 6-5 Linette - The Belarusian stays calm and holds serve. Guarantees herself at least a tiebreak.

Sabalenka 5-5 Linette* - Linette serving to stay in the set. Takes the opening point with a crunch forehand winner down the line. Slow second serve, Sabalenka hits the crosscourt backhand return into the net - 0-30. No signs of nervousness from the Polish player yet. Holds serve.

Sabalenka* 5-4 Linette: Sublime stuff from Sabalenka. Love hold.

Sabalenka 4-4 Linette* - Linette levels the scores yet again. Another important service hold. Who will break first in this opening set?

Sabalenka* 4-3 Linette: Sabalenka’s forehand is lethal and she showed that in another strong service hold.

Sabalenka 3-3 Linette* - Linette with a solid service hold.

Sabalenka* 3-2 Linette: Backhand winner down the line. Bread and butter for Linette who is up 15-0. Inside-out forehand from Sabalenka goes wide and she is down 0-30. A 19-shot rally during which Sabalenka was initially on the defense but once Linette gave a ball on her forehand, she switched to attack and eventually win the point with a crosscourt forehand winner - 30-all. Big first body serve to close the game. Sabalenka holds.

Sabalenka 2-2 Linette* - Clean and accurate play from Linette. Up 40-0 in no time. Sabalenka hits a crushing forehand down the line return winner. Sabalenka saves another game point as she adds depth to her returns and draws a wide forehand from Linette. Backhand from Linette goes into the net and it is deuce. Crosscourt backhand winner from the baseline from Sabalenka to earn her first break point. And she converts as Linette hits a backhand long.

Sabalenka* 1-2 Linette: Sabalenka lets out a huge roar after a running forehand down the line winner to go 40-30 up after initially taking a 30-0 lead. Sabalenka holds. Gets on the scoreboard.

Sabalenka 0-2 Linette* - A T ace from Linette, first of the match, to go 30-15 up. Excellent use of the drop shot from the Pole before hitting a simple backhand volley into the open court. Two game points. Backhand return from Sabalenka on second serve goes wide. Linette consolidates the break.

Sabalenka* 0-1 Linette: Sabalenka to serve first in this semifinal. Some start for Linette as she is 40-0 up already. Three break points. Heavy backhand from the Belarusian and she has been broken to love.

4:15PM - Sabalenka and Linette are on court now. The second semifinal beginning shortly. Sabalenka leads the head-to-head 2-0.

4:05PM - Well, there you have it. Elena Rybakina is through to her first Australian Open final. The reigning Wimbledon champion will face the winner of the second semifinal between Aryna Sabalenka and Magda Linette, which starts shortly, for the title.


SECOND SET (* denotes server)

Rybakina 6-3 Azarenka* - Azarenka serving to stay in the match now. Rybakina puts the loose previous game behind her and attacks Azarenka’s serve to go 30-0 up. A double fault from Azarenka. Three match points for Rybakina. Azarenka saves one but hits a backhand into the net at the end of a short rally to end the proceedings. Elena Rybakina is through to her maiden Australian Open final and as expected, no emotions on her face!

Rybakina* 5-3 Azarenka - Rybakina to serve for a place in the final. Well, well. Two forehand errors from the Kazakh and she is down 0-30. Wide serve into the deuce court followed by an inside-out forehand from Rybakina - 15-30. Double fault from Rybakina and Azarenka has two break points at 40-15. It is not over yet. Rybakina saves first with a big serve and a forehand winner from the net into the open court. Slow and wide second serve into the ad court, Azarenka hits a backhand return winner down the line. Gets one break back.

Rybakina 5-2 Azarenka* - An important service game for Azarenka. If she gets broken here, it might just be the end. A double fault from the Belarusian - 15-all. And another - 15-30. Rybakina gets the short ball, goes for the forehand winner down the line but hits it just wide - 30-all. Misjudgement from Azarenka as forehand return from Rybakina lands just on the baseline. Break point. A wild inside-out forehand from Azarenka and Rybakina is up by a double break.

Rybakina* 4-2 Azarenka - Excellent court coverage from Rybakina. Reads the drop shot from Azarenka early, rushes in and hits a perfect forehand pass - 15-0. Love hold for Rybakina. Very much in control of the match.

Rybakina 3-2 Azarenka* - Looks like the wheels were coming off for Azarenka. She was down 15-40 and facing two break points. Big first serve and a forehand down the line winner - she saved one. A forehand error from Rybakina - deuce. Azarenka holds. She hangs on!

Rybakina* 3-1 Azarenka - Azarenka again gets close to breaking Rybakina but the Kazakh’s big first serve saves her one more time. Break consolidated.

Rybakina 2-1 Azarenka* - A backhand return winner down the line from Rybakina followed by an unforced forehand error from Azarenka - the former World No. 1 is down 0-30. Make that 0-40 after a forehand gone long. Deep backhand return from Rybakina draws a heavy forehand from Azarenka. Rybakina breaks to love!

Rybakina* 1-1 Azarenka - Two aces from Rybakina in the opening service game of the second set and she is up 40-0. Azarenka closes in but Rybakine gets out of possible danger with an ace wide into the ad court.

Rybakina 0-1 Azarenka* - Azarenka to serve first in the second set. A double fault sees the Belarusian go down 15-30. Rybakina injects more pace into her crosscourt backhand and draws a weak backhand in return from Azarenka. Break point for the reigning Wimbledon champion. Azarenka saves it with a stunning crosscourt forehand winner after Rybakina makes her run from one end of the baseline to the other. Rybakina could have closed the net a bit more. An ace wide into the ad court helps Azarenka hold.

FIRST SET (* denotes server)

Tiebreaker (Rybakina 7-4 Azarenka): Rybakina begins with a service winner down the T. For once, Azarenka’s forehand misses the baseline by a whisker and she is down 0-2. Great bit of defending from Azarenka to keep the rally going before drawing a backhand error from Rybakina after a loopy forehand shot - 1-2. Rybakina makes another backhand error and the mini-break advantage is gone - 2-2. Heavy crosscourt forehand from Azarenka after a brief rally - Rybakina leads 3-2. Double fault from Azarenka, Rybakina gets the mini-break advantage again as she goes up 4-2. Another mistake from Azarenka, this time a crosscourt backhand going wide. Rybakina leads 5-2 and has the next two serves. Azarenka gets one mini-break back with a crosscourt forehand winner - 3-5. And she gets the second one as well as Rybakina hits a crosscourt forehand wide - Rybakina leads 5-4. Overcooked backhand from Azarenka and Rybakina, at 6-4, has two set points with the first being on the Belarusian’s serve. And she converts the first one itself as Azarenka hits an inside-out forehand wide. Rybakina wins the opening set in 61 minutes.

Rybakina 6-6 Azarenka* - Azarenka again serving to stay in the set. And the Belarusian is 40-0 up in no time. Love hold for the former World No. 1. Tiebreaker to decide who takes the first set.

Rybakina* 6-5 Azarenka - Rybakina still unable to find her first serve. Meanwhile, Azarenka has hit two good forehand winners to go 30-0 up and looks set to break. Double fault from the Kazakh and she is 0-40 down. The first serve still not landing but Rybakina manages to save two break points, first with a backhand error from Azarenka and second after a forehand winner from herself. One more to go. And she saves that too as Azarenka takes the second serve early but hits the backhand return into the net - deuce. Body serve from Rybakina and Azarenka hits the forehand down the line wide. Game point for Rybakina. Ace wide into the ad court. Rybakina holds!

Rybakina 5-5 Azarenka* - Azarenka serving to stay in the set. Begins with a double fault. Azarenka putting more height on her shots, something she did successfully against Pegula in the last match. And it works as she hits a brilliant backhand winner down the line to finish a rally - 30-all. Azarenka holds.

Rybakina* 5-4 Azarenka - Rybakina serving for the set. Azarenka fights back. Strong hitting and rushing to the net to put pressure on Rybakina - up 30-0. Sweet inside-out forehand winner from Rybakina - 30-all. Forehand error from Azarenka and Rybakina has a set point at 40-30. Brilliant forehand down the line pass from Azarenka after Rybakina seemed to have finished the point with her forehand volley - deuce. Break point for Azarenka after she draws a heavy backhand from Rybakina. Now, the reigning Wimbledon champion shows her might with big hitting before finishing the rally with a backhand winner down the line. Another break point for Azarenka with a backhand winner. Can she convert this one? Yes, she can. Rybakina unable to get free points with her first serve not working today. This time, a heavy backhand from the Kazakh brings things back on serve in this opening set.

Rybakina 5-3 Azarenka* - Well. Rybakina has totally found her rhythm now - up 40-15 and two break points on Azarenka’s serve. The two-time champion does well to save both of those with crosscourt forehand winners after setting up the point with strong first serves. A scintillating 16-shot rally, Rybakina makes Azarenka run from end-to-end before hitting a forehand winner down the line to earn another break point. And she converts as Azarenka hits a forehand into the net.

Rybakina* 4-3 Azarenka - Rybakina goes 30-0 up with a T ace. Body serve from the Kazakh, Azarenka hits the backhand return into the net. Three game points. Service winner from Rybakina - wide into the ad court.

Rybakina 3-3 Azarenka* - Two unforced errors on the backhand from Rybakina and Azarenka is 30-0 up. The 22nd-seeded Kazakh manages to get one backhand right and find the vacant right corner to make it 30-all. Rybakina has a break point as her forehand just catches some part of the baseline and Azarenka, clearly expecting an ‘out’ call, hits the forehand long - 30-40. Rybakina hits a strong forehand return down the line and Azarenka is unable to make a clean connection with the forehand. Rybakina gets the break back.

Rybakina* 2-3 Azarenka - First opportunity for Azarenka as she hits a clean forehand winner down the line to go 40-30 and earn a break point. Azarenka does get the break after first proper rally (14 shots) of the match, winning it with a forehand volley into the open court.

Rybakina 2-2 Azarenka* - Body serve from Azarenka, Rybakina’s backhand return goes off court - 30-15. A beautiful inside-out backhand winner from Azarenka to go 40-15 up. Great serve down the middle. Azarenka holds.

Rybakina* 2-1 Azarenka - Serve down the middle followed by a glorious crosscourt backhand winner - Rybakina up 15-0. Love hold.

Rybakina 1-1 Azarenka* - Azarenka to serve now. Deep forehand return from Rybakina, lands right at Azarenka’s feet and gets the short ball for a simple crosscourt forehand winner - 15-all. Wide serve into the ad court from Azarenka, Rybakina hits a crosscourt backhand return and the backhand shot in reply from the Belarusian lands into the net - 30-all. Rybakina taking the ball early and drawing errors from Azarenka - deuce. An ace wide into the deuce court just when she needed - game point for Azarenka. Crosscourt forehand from Rybakina goes wide. Azarenka holds.

Rybakina* 1-0 Azarenka - Warm up is done. Game time. Rybakina to serve. And she begins with a double fault! Manages to get the first serve in, Azarenka’s crosscourt backhand return goes wide. Follows it up with a T ace. And an ace wide into the ad court - 40-15. Wraps the game with an ace wide into the deuce court. Three aces already!

2:07PM - Here we go. Rybakina and Azarenka are making their way through the ‘Walk of Champions’ to the Rod Laver Arena.

1:30PM - Rybakina has blasted 35 aces in five matches, leading all players in Melbourne. However, Azarenka is one of the best returners on tour. She has won 105 first-serve return points in this edition. At the same time, she has converted 26 break points, more than any other player.

1:20PM - How Azarenka has reached the semifinals -

  • Quarterfinals: Beat [3] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-4, 6-1
  • Fourth Round: Beat Zhu Lin (CHN) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4
  • Third Round: Beat [10] Madison Keys (USA) 1-6, 6-2, 6-1
  • Second Round: Beat Nadia Podoroska (ARG) 6-1, 6-0
  • First Round: Beat Sofia Kenin (USA) 6-4, 7-6 (3)

Total time spent on court: 8 hours 57 minutes.

1:15PM - How Rybakina has reached the semifinals -

  • Quarterfinals: Beat [17] Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-2, 6-4
  • Fourth Round: Beat [1] Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-4, 6-4
  • Third Round: Beat [13] Danielle Collins (USA) 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
  • Second Round: Beat Kaja Juvan (SLO) 6-2, 6-1
  • First Round: Beat Elisabetta Cocciaretto (ITA) 7-5, 6-3

Total time spent on court: 7 hours 14 minutes.

1:10PM - Rybakina vs Azarenka Head-to-Head Record

Rybakina and Azarenka have faced each other only once previously. In the third round of the 2022 Indian Wells Masters, Rybakina had beaten Azarenka 6-3, 6-4.

1PM - For the third straight match, reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina will be up against another Grand Slam champion. Victoria Azarenka, who has won the Australian Open twice, showed with her performance against Jessica Pegula that she is playing some of her best tennis at the age of 33 years. The first semifinal between Rybakina and Azarenka is set to be a thrilling contest. Later in the day, Azarenka’s compatriot Aryna Sabalenka faces Poland’s Magda Linette in the second semifinal .Will we have an all-Belarusian final? Stay tuned for all the build-up to the two semifinals!

Where to watch 2023 Australian Open in India?

In India, viewers will be able to watch the live telecast of the Australian Open on the Sony Sports Network and stream the matches live on the SonyLiv app and JioTV.

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