World No. 23 Elena Rybakina called Simona Halep "a great champion" and said she will try to focus on her game when she meets the Romanian at Wimbledon. On Wednesday, Rybakina recovered from a set down to beat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6 6-2 6-2 and reach her maiden Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon.
In the semifinal, Rybakina is set to face Halep - who has won five matches in straight sets this fortnight. "It was very tough matches. I remember in Dubai I lost in the tiebreak, very close. At the US Open also, there I was a bit injured.
In the end I just know that I have to play till the end because she's great fighter. No matter the score, just keep focusing on my game, on my plan. Just be more stable and also confident in some moments," Rybakina said of facing Halep, per the WTA website.
"The key, of course, is my serve, aggressive game. She's a great champion. She's moving really well, reading the game. I just try to do my best, focus on things which I can control: my serve, my shots, emotions. No matter what's happening, just to stay calm, keep playing point by point."
Rybakina set to meet Halep for the fourth time
Rybakina, 23, and 30-year-old Halep clashed for the first time in Wuhan three years ago.
Back then, Rybakina was 5-4 up in the first set before Halep retired the match. Just before the pandemic suspended the 2020 season, Rybakina and Halep clashed in Dubai. Rybakina lost a tight one to Halep in Dubai as the Romanian recovered from a set down to beat the Kazakk 3-6 6-3 7-6 (5).
At the US Open last year, Rybakina and Halep clashed for the third time. Once again, the match went three sets as Halep edged out Rybakina 7-6 (11) 4-6 6-3. It remains to be seen if Rybakina can upset Halep and reach her maiden Grand Slam final.
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