Australian Open lookahead: Sabalenka-Rybakina women’s final
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — LOOKAHEAD TO SATURDAY
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina plays in her second final in the past three Grand Slam tournaments when she meets No. 5 Aryana Sabalenka for the women’s singles championship. Rybakina is a 23-year-old from Kazakhstan who is seeded 22nd at Melbourne Park. Sabalenka is a 24-year-old from Belarus who is seeded fifth. They are two of the hardest-hitting players in tennis. Saturday’s contest is the first Grand Slam final of Sabalenka’s career. She is 10-0 in 2023, winning all 20 sets. Sabalenka has won all three previous matches she and Rybakina have played against each other. All went to three sets. They last met in 2021. Jason Kubler and Rinky Hijikata will play Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski in the men’s doubles final that follows the women’s singles final.
FRIDAY’S KEY RESULTS
Men’s Singles Semifinals: No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas beat No. 18 Karen Khachanov 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3; No. 4 Novak Djokovic beat Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2.
Mixed Doubles Final: Rafael Matos and Luisa Stefani beat Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza 7-6 (2), 6-2.
Women’s Doubles Semifinals: No. 1 Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova beat Elena-Gabriela Ruse and Marta Kostyuk 6-2, 6-2; No. 10 Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara beat No. 2 Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff 6-2, 7-6 (7).
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Mostly cloudy with a high of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34 degrees Celsius).
STAT OF THE DAY
2 — Number of consecutive Grand Slam tournaments where the men’s No. 1 ranking is on the line in the final. Whoever wins Sunday, Djokovic or Tsitsipas, will rise to the top spot on Monday. The same thing happened at the U.S. Open in September, when Carlos Alcaraz ascended to No. 1 instead of Casper Ruud by beating him in that final.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I like that number.” — Tsitsipas about the potential of seeing a “1” next to his name if he claims the top ranking.
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