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Italian Open: Elena Rybakina reaches final, set to clash with Anhelina Kalinina

Updated on: 20 May,2023 01:25 PM IST  |  Rome

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina stormed into the final of the ongoing Italian Open 2023 after a win over 20th seed Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinal at Rome

 Italian Open: Elena Rybakina reaches final, set to clash with Anhelina Kalinina

Elena Rybakina celebrates after defeating Jelena Ostapenko during their semifinals match of the Italian Open tennis tournament on May 19, 2023 (Pic: AFP)

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina stormed into the final of the ongoing Italian Open 2023 after a win over 20th seed Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinal at Rome.

Rybakina has advanced to her third WTA 1000 final of the season with this win by 6-2, 6-4 in a match that lasted for one hour and 33 minutes on Friday.

Rybakina entered the match behind Ostapenko 2-1 in the head-to-head. The Latvian won the first two meetings, in Linz in 2019 and Eastbourne in 2021. Rybakina won their last meeting on the hard courts of the Australian Open in January. Rybakina has now tied their head-to-head at 2-2 after winning their first clay match.

Rybakina got off to a fast start, breaking Ostapenko twice to take a 4-1 lead. After 43 minutes, the WTA Tour's ace leader kept control of her service games to seal the first set with her fifth ace of the match.

However, Ostapenko swiftly recovered in the early portions of the second set. Ostapenko broke for the first time in her ninth Rome appearance, powering down a forehand return winner to go up 2-0. As the rain began to fall heavier, she saved a break point to increase her lead to 4-1.

After a brief rain delay, Ostapenko went behind on her serve at 4-2, 15-40, before a longer rain delay was implemented. When play restarted, Ostapenko won just four points the rest of the way as Rybakina completed her comeback from a 4-1 deficit.

"I did not start that well in the second set. A bit low on energy, lost my serve. So it was difficult. Then a few good shots from her, good serves. It changed very quickly," said Rybakina as quoted by WTA.

"The same time, I knew it is only one break and I just need to be focused and fight for every ball because you never know, either you get the winner or it is going to be some mistake," added the player.

Rybakina will lock horns with Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina in Saturday night's final. Rybakina and Kalinina have only met once, with the Ukrainian winning in three sets last year in Charleston. Rybakina was defeated 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 by Kalinina.

"Actually she used to work with my coach," Rybakina said on facing Kalinina.

"We just have a good relationship. I am always cheering for her also. Same, whenever I win, she is always supporting. We have a good relationship. I am happy that we're going to play a final," added the Wimbledon champion.

Number 30 seed Anhelina Kalinina also reached her first-ever WTA 1000 final of her career after a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 win over Veronika Kudermetova on Friday.

Kalinina of Ukraine required 2 hours and 51 minutes to defeat Kudermetova 2-1 and claim her second Top 20 victory in a row. In the previous round, Kalinina defeated Number 12 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the longest match of the season.

"I win [the first set] 7-5, then I lost a little bit maybe concentration," Kalinina said after Friday's victory.

"Also too much nerves because I was serving for the match. This is my first [WTA 1000] semifinal. I was trying to little bit turn off the emotions, but it's very tough when you're playing such tough matches. In the third set, I think I was much better mentally. I was staying stronger, more focused. I am really happy and proud of myself how I handled it after the second set," said Kalinina after the match. 

Also Read: Italian Open: Coco Gauff-Jessica Pegula battle past Desirae Krawczyk-Demi Schuurs into doubles final

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