Australia already has its first great duel of the best

BRISBANE-. Almost a year after they met in the final of the Open Australia, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina They will play another final in a key preparation event for the first major of 2024.

Top-seeded Sabalenka beat compatriot and two-time champion Victoria Aazarenka 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday to book her place in the Brisbane final against Rybakina, who won Wimbledon in 2022.

With this victory, Sabalenka reached 15 straight wins in Australia, including the Adelaide title last year before her Grand Slam achievement at Melbourne Park.

The 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in the Australian Open final is Sabalenka’s most notable victory in seven meetings against Rybakina.

“Let’s just say it’s going to be a great battle, as always,” Sabalenka said about Sunday’s final. “Always a great game against Elena.”

Australia laid the foundation for Sabalenka to have her best season, reaching at least the semifinals in all four majors to become number one in the world and finish the year as second in the world rankings.

“Last year was an incredible year for me,” he admitted. “I think I had enough time to recharge, take time off. A great preseason and enough time without playing a tournament. Here I am ready with all the energy.”

Sabalenka had 10 aces and 35 winners against Azarenka, who won back-to-back Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013 and is a two-time champion in Brisbane.

Sunday’s final will be the first to pit the top two seeds against each other in Brisbane since 2015, when Maria Sharapova beat Ana Ivanovic (2nd) in three sets.

Rybakina had 26 winners, eight aces and made just 10 unforced errors to beat 19-year-old Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-2.