Elena Rybakina shares how she and Aryna Sabalenka met for the first time

Rybakina and Sabalenka are one of the biggest rivals but there is also a strong mutual respect between the two.

by Dzevad Mesic
Elena Rybakina shares how she and Aryna Sabalenka met for the first time
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Elena Rybakina shares she and Aryna Sabalenka actually go a long way back as long before they became tennis superstars, their first meeting came at an ITF event. 

Rybakina, 24, and 26-year-old Sabalenka are widely regarded as one of the best players in women's tennis and they have had several great battles over the last couple of years, including a thriller 2023 Australian Open final that Sabalenka won. 

This week, Rybakina and Sabalenka kicked off their French Open campaigns with wins as both are targeting a deep run and ultimately the title. And if Rybakina and Sabalenka reach the semifinal at Roland Garros, they will be fighting against each other for a final spot. 

Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina
Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Matthew Stockman

Rybakina opens up on meeting Sabalenka for the first time 

“We met at a 25K, I think, and I remember I lost that match, but that's the memories which I have for now, but I'm friendly with kind of everybody around," Rybakina recounted.

“I respect her for sure because of everything that we do, it's not easy. She’s been at the top for a long time. I think if you can stay as long as possible, it's a great thing.”

So far, Rybakina and Sabalenka have met nine times on the main level and the Belarusian leads their head-to-head 6-3. 

At the start of this season, Rybakina dismantled Sabalenka 6-0 6-3 in the Brisbane International final but the Belarusian got her revenge over the Kazakh in Madrid, winning their tight semifinal match 1-6 7-5 7-6 (5). For Rybakina, losing to Sabalenka in Madrid was pretty heartbreaking since she was up by a set and had a chance to serve out for the match in the second set before the Belarusian's big comeback started. 

Since Rybakina and Sabalenka are in the same part of the French Open draw, it wouldn't be surprising if their third meeting of the season came at Roland Garros.

Elena Rybakina Aryna Sabalenka