The 21-year-old Elena Rybakina is through to the Tour-leading fifth WTA final of the season, beating Nao Hibino 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 16 minutes. The Hobart champion claimed 21 victories in January and February before the coronavirus outbreak, regaining that form slowly and playing on a high level against the Japanese to move into the seventh WTA final in a career.
Elena prevailed over Nao at Roland Garros 2019 and was more dominant today, dropping 18 points in ten service games and fending off all three break chances to mount the pressure on the other side. Hibino did her best to stay in touch, suffering one break in each set to end her journey in the semis.
The second game offered six deuces and Hibino had to play against two break chances, repelling them to avoid an early exit following a backhand winner. Nao wasted a massive opportunity to move 3-2 in front in game five, allowing Elena to fend off both break points and bring the game home with a service winner.
Rybakina grabbed a break in the sixth game when Hibino netted a forehand, confirming the advantage with an ace and sealing the opener with a hold at love in game nine for a 6-3 after 37 minutes. Losing ground in those moments, Nao hit a double fault to get broken at love in the first game of the second set, landing a backhand winner in game two to confirm the advantage.
After six good holds on both sides, Rybakina fended off a break chance in game eight, closing it with two winners and moving over the top with a hold at 5-4. The 2nd seed Elina Svitolina overpowered the 4th seed Aryna Sabalenka and rain to book the place in the second WTA final of the season.
It was their first match since Wuhan 2018, with Svitolina prevailing in the crucial points to bring the victory home and remain on the title course.
Elena Rybakina and Elina Svitolina are the last players standing in Strasbourg.
The Ukrainian suffered four breaks and delivered six from ten chances, securing three of those in the decider to cross the finish line first.
Elina had the upper hand in the opener, stealing Sabalenka's serve in games two, six and eight for 6-2. Playing on a high level, Aryna had the advantage in set number two, serving well and earning a break in game seven following a massive forehand error from Svitolina.
The Belarusian held at 15 in game ten to seal the set, hoping for more of the same in the decider. She remained in touch until 3-3 before Elina grabbed two breaks in games eight and ten to move over the top.