Madrid: Aryna Sabalenka continues resurgence, sets up Elena Rybakina SF showdown

Sabalenka set to fight Rybakina for a Madrid final spot.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Madrid: Aryna Sabalenka continues resurgence, sets up Elena Rybakina SF showdown
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka ousted rising Russian star Mirra Andreeva 6-1 6-4 to reach the Madrid Open semifinal and set up a showdown versus Elena Rybakina. 

After beating 17-year-old Andreeva in their first meeting in Madrid last year, Sabalenka went on to win the title. This year in Madrid, Sabalenka and Andreeva faced off again and it was their second meeting. 

Against Andreeva, Sabalenka came out determined to make a statement early on and she succeeded in her goal as the two-time Grand Slam champion broke the 17-year-old in the fourth and sixth games en route to winning the first set with just one game lost.

After easily winning the opener, Sabalenka went up by a set and a break after breaking Andreeva in the fifth game of the second set. With Andreeva serving to stay in the match in the ninth game, Sabalenka had two match points but the 17-year-old Russian saved those chances to cut the second-set deficit to 4-5. However, Sabalenka remained unfazed and converted her third match point on her serve in the following game.

"I'm super happy with the level I played today, and with this win. She's an incredible player even though she's super young. Conditions suit me well, and hopefully, I can just keep going the way that I'm going," Sabalenka said of beating Andreeva.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney
 

For Sabalenka, this is the first time since winning the Australian Open that she has been through to a semifinal.

Sabalenka on facing Rybakina next

In the Madrid semifinal, Sabalenka will play against Rybakina - one of her biggest rivals. When Sabalenka and Rybakina meet in Madrid, it will be their second meeting this year and overall their ninth meeting. 

Heading into their ninth meeting, Sabalenka leads their head-to-head 5-3. But in their lone meeting this year that came in the Brisbane final, Rybakina demolished Sabalenka 6-0 6-3.

Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina
Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Mark Kolbe
 

"It's never easy if you get to the semifinals. Elena, we've had so many great battles. It's going to be a tough challenge for me, but I'm happy to accept this challenge, and I'll do my best to get this win and hopefully. I'm going to bring my best tennis," Sabalenka said of facing Rybakina.

Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina
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