Elena Rybakina came of age Thursday at Wimbledon pulling off the biggest win of her career upsetting Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3 to reach the Saturday final.
The lanky 23-year-old simply overpowered Halep. While she only hit five aces, her serve and then big groundstrokes were too much for Halep who didn’t help her cause with nine double faults.
“I’m really happy with my performance as I played a solid match,” Rybakina said. “Usually I have mental ups and downs but today I was mentally prepared, and it was a great match.”
Rybakina is the first Kazakh woman or man to make a Grand Slam final.
Halep had won her last 12 matches at Wimbledon and 21 sets in a row.
“To serve a little bit better,” Halep said. “I improved a lot in my serve the last three months. But today I feel like I went back to my normal one. Many double faults and too soft. Definitely, if I would have had a better serve today, would have been better.
“Her level was very high today. She played really well. She was very solid, consistent. Yeah, didn’t drop the level. But I didn’t do much. Somehow, I think I gave her the perfect ball to do her game, to feel comfortable on court.”
Ons Jabeur will be next for Rybakina in the final. The Tunisian ended the run of 34-year-old mom Tatjana Maria 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
Jabeur fell into peril in the second after a slew of errors, but was too strong down the stretch for the German. She becomes the first Arab and first African woman to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open Era.
“The dream kind of started last year when I enjoyed playing here, enjoyed the crowd. I didn’t play so many Wimbledons before. Usually it was the first and second round. It’s tricky to play on grass.
I knew I was playing good on grass because of my game and everything.
“I just love everything around here, the atmosphere and everything. It was my main goal from the beginning of the season, and even from last year. Everything about the energy, I just love being here.”
Jabeur leads Rybakina 2-1.
“But it’s a challenge for me to be stable, to be strong mentally, and try to do my best,” Rybakina admitted. “I know how Ons plays. She knows how I play. We know each other well. We’ll see how it’s going to go.”
Said Jabeur of Rybakina, “She serves really well, so my main goal is to return as much balls as I can, to make her really work hard to win the point. I know she can hit really hard and hit a lot of winners. I know that my game could really bother her. I really try to focus more on myself, do a lot of slices, try to really make her work hard.”
The Sunday final will feature two women who are in their first Grand Slam final.
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Rybakina is the same basher we have seen a dozen iterations of over the last decade. If a player with that style gets hot, she can win a Slam but then it’s over and we never hear from her again. Rooting for Jabeur because her style of play is much more enjoyable to watch.
July 8th, 2022 at 10:40 am