Sunday, 26 Mar, 2023


Rybakina stuns world No.1 Swiatek at Open

Sports Desk |
Update: 2023-01-22 20:44:51
Rybakina stuns world No.1 Swiatek at Open [Photo Collected]

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has confessed to drawing on her experience of facing Ash Barty on Rod Laver Arena before stunning world No.1 Iga Swiatek on the same court to earn an Australian Open quarter-final berth.

The big-serving 22nd seed started her Melbourne Park campaign on court 13 and hadn't enjoyed the main stage until beating Swiatek 6-4 6-4 on Sunday.

Rybakina earned a quarter-final with 17th seed and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who eliminated world No.7 Coco Gauff in another major upset.

While Gauff exited, Jessica Pegula kept American hopes alive and became the highest remaining women's seed after the world No.3 triumphed over Barbora Krejcikova 7-5 6-2.

Swiatek had spoken multiple times during her campaign about drawing inspiration from retired reigning champion Barty.

But on Sunday, Rybakina recalled her straight-sets third-round loss to the Australian in 2020 as an opportunity that prepared her for her bumper victory.

"It did for me well because I actually played at Rod Laver against Ash Barty in 2020," she told reporters.

"I played really well. I started well (that) season. I won in Hobart and then (played the) third round against her, and it was unbelievable crowd, of course.

"I kind of knew what to expect on these big courts, and I just try to do my best and tried to focus on my serve.

"... I really don't care on which court I play (going forward)."

Rybakina had never bettered her 2020 third-round appearance in Melbourne before this year but the big-serving 23-year-old showed impressive poise when it mattered, including winning the second set after trailing 3-0.

In reaching the quarter-finals, Rybakina also snapped defending French and US Open champion Swiatek's 10-match winning run at grand slams.

Rybakina's No.22 seeding is somewhat deceptive as she did not receive any ranking points for last year's Wimbledon triumph.

The WTA and ATP withheld all points at Wimbledon after the All England Club banned players from Russia and Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian-born Kazakh is eyeing further improvement against Ostapenko, who beat Gauff 7-5 6-3.

"She hits really hard, and she plays aggressive like me," Rybakina said.

"So for sure I need to be really focused on my serve because today on one side I was struggling a bit. It's not easy if my weapon is not going."

Ostapenko, 25, is in the quarter-finals at a slam for the first time since her 2018 Wimbledon semi-final appearance.

"I really had nothing to lose so I just went there and tried to show my best and fight for every point and make it hard for her and I'm really happy with the win," the Latvian said.

"At the end, I think I kept her under so much pressure and it brought me a win."

Source: The West Australian

BDST: 2044 HRS, JAN 22, 2023

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