Wimbledon Champion Elena Rybakina Serves Her Way to Semi-finals

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Elena Rybakina romped her way into the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jelena Ostapenko on Tuesday. The 22nd seed needed an hour and 19 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to make the last four where she’ll meet either Victoria Azarenka or Jessica Pegula.

The Kazakh player, fresh off straight sets win over World No 1 Iga Swiatek, made the most of her big serve to peg the Latvian back.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the 23-year-old’s serve: 11 aces, 43% unreturned, won 42 of 64 points, average of 179 kmph with the biggest clocking 190 kmph. The big and precise serving also meant she kept points short with 49 points finishing in under four shots.

The Moscow-born Rybakina served at least one ace in five of her nine serves including three in seventh and ninth games; and two in the second and sixth games.

“I would say that I always served big, but for sure when I started to work with my coach, we did a lot of changes on the technique. Like this, I gained even more power. Yeah, it’s my weapon on the court, and of course we are trying to work on it,” she said after the win.

This is not the first time Rybakina has made the most of the weapon to lap up free points. At Wimbledon last year, when she lifted the trophy, the now 25th-ranked Elena served a tournament-leading 53 aces – 23 more than second-best Caroline Garcia.

She has the most aces at the ongoing Australian Open, 35, ahead of Karolina Pliskova (28) who is scheduled to play Magda Linette on Wednesday. In comparison, 19 men have struck more aces in Melbourne.

Oddly, serve is not the most utilised shot for points on the women’s tour despite players getting taller and advancements in racket technology. At the 2022 US Open, Qinwen Zheng had the most aces (38) and at least year’s Australian Open that statistic belonged to Madison Keys (36).

“I think compared to other girls, I’m quite tall. I mean, there are other girls who are also strong and tall, but I think it’s not only about the height. It’s very important to have good biomechanics technique, and everything together you can serve better,” she said on the serve on the women’s tour.

“I’m happy with my serve. I guess everybody else needs to think if, in this aspect, they need to work more or not, because some girls, they are fine maybe not with the speed, but they have good angles on the serve. They are opening the court. I think everybody is different, and everybody just trying to do what’s best for them on the court,” she added.

And Rybakina was at her best on the court on Tuesday. She broke Ostapenko as soon as the match began and hammered down three aces to reach 3-1 in no time.

After a half-hour delay, caused by a sudden cloudburst, needed the roof to be closed and court be mopped, players returned and Ostapenko was broken once again.

Rybakina closed the opening set out in 32 minutes with her aggressive serve getting her out of a cage.

Ostapenko, irritated by automatic line calls, started the second set strongly to go 2-0 up. But Rybakina hit back right back and put herself close to the finish line soon enough.

The 25-year-old Ostapenko saved two match points with glitzy winners, but the 1.83 metre Rybakina closed the match out with, you guessed it, an ace.

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