Italian Open: Elena Rybakina sees off Jelena Ostapenko; reaches maiden finale in Rome

Anhelina Kalinina notches a career debut in the Italian capital after win over Veronika Kudermetova

by Abbey Johnson
Italian Open: Elena Rybakina sees off Jelena Ostapenko; reaches maiden finale in Rome

The 2023 Italian Open final will see Anhelina Kalinina and Elena Rybakina take on each other. On Friday, the Ukrainian and Kazakh won their respective semi-final matches. Kalinina, the 30th seed, was the first to make it to the final after upsetting 11th seed Veronika Kudermetova, 7-5, 5-7, 6-2.

Kalinina completed the match just nine minutes shy of three hours. The first two sets played out in a near-similar manner. Kudermetova’s serve came under trouble first across both sets. In the first set, she lost her serve in the seventh game while in the second, Kalinina went up a break in the fifth.

And, in both sets, Kalinina maintained her lead long enough to try and serve the proceedings out but found herself dropping her own serve. Incidentally, Kalinina’s service breaks came in the crucial 10th game. In the first set, Kalinina was able to recover the brief lapse in her focus as she secured a second break of Kudermetova’s serve in the 11th game before serving out the set successfully in the following game.

However, she wasn’t able to replicate the same feat in the second set giving Kudermetova a chance to level the match. The deciding set, however, was entirely dominated by the 26-year-old. She won 78% points on return on Kudermetova’s second serve and converted two break points to see herself through.

Kalinina didn’t face a single break point across the set.

Italian Open: Elena Rybakina too good for Jelena Ostapenko

Meanwhile, the second semi-final was relatively quicker albeit marred by rain. The seventh-seeded Rybakina came through against the 20th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-4 in 93 minutes.

The opening set went by almost in a flash with Rybakina dominating the shot-making. Ostapenko, who’d been riding a wave of good form in the earlier rounds found it unable to match up to the Kazakh’s level. The second set did see a turnaround as Ostapenko went ahead 4-1 in the set.

At that time, rain enforced a stoppage of play and when play resumed, the match turned in Rybakina’s favour for one last time. She won five games in a row to finish the match in straight sets. This is the first time Anhelina Kalinina and Elena Rybakina have made it to the final of the Italian Open.

In fact, for Kalinina, this is the first time in her career she’ll play the final of a WTA 1000 tournament. She’s also the second player from her country to make it this far, here. Elina Svitolina, her compatriot was the first to achieve this feat and went on to win the title twice in a row, in 2017 and 2018.

Meanwhile, this is the fourth final of the 2023 season for Rybakina, coming after the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami Open finals. Photo Credit: Italian Open Twitter

Elena Rybakina Jelena Ostapenko Veronika Kudermetova