After 128 women began a journey last week to attempt to be the Australian Open champion, only four women remain. All these semifinalists have shown excellent form and all have a reasonable expectation that they should be the ones to lift the trophy. Let’s take a look at tonight’s featured match to find another winning tennis pick.
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Elena Rybakina vs. Victoria Azarenka
Thursday, January 26, 2023 – 03:30 AM EST at Rod Laver Arena
Elena Rybakina Analysis
Elena Rybakina continued her journey towards the Australian Open title with a solid win over the streaky, mercurial Jelena Ostapenko. Rybakina never gave Ostapenko a chance and won a routine 6-2, 6-4 match.
The Kazakhstani player has an excellent style of play for the Australian Open. She has one of the most effective serves on tour and dialed up 11 aces in her quarterfinal win. She leads the tournament in aces having scored 35 aces this fortnight.
The 23-year-old showed she was in form and a major threat to win this tournament when she was able to defeat last year's finalist, Danielle Collins. It was a tough match but Rybakina prevailed 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. It was the only match in this tournament that Rybakina was on the court for over 2 hours.
She then achieved the most impressive win of the tournament by defeating world number one, Iga Swiatek. She made the victory look routine when she scored a 6-4, 6-4 win. It was her first win over a world number one player and it was the first time she had scored a top 10 victory in a hard court major.
Rybakina is the reigning Wimbledon champion. She excels on the quick grass and, of course, the quick courts of Australia. In the form she is currently displaying, she is the rightful favorite by WTA odds to win the Australian Open.
Victoria Azarenka Analysis
Victoria Azarenka comes into this match in excellent form, as well. For the first time since March of 2016, the 33-year-old beat a player ranked in the top three of the world. She did that when she defeated world #3 Jessica Pegula. She won in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1 in less than 100 minutes.
The Belarusian player is a seasoned veteran. Her win over Pegula was her 47th career win at the Australian Open. That moved her past Martina Navratilova and tied her with Steffi Graf for sixth place in the tournament’s all-time match win list. The win moved her into a tie with Martina Hingis in 13th place for the most Grand Slam career wins in the Open Era.
Azarenka has been in the Grand Slam semifinals eight times. She is 5-3 in the Grand Slam semifinals. However, seven of those were in 2013 or previous. In her last two trips to the Australian Open semifinals, she won the title. This happened in 2012 and 2013. She is the most recent player to defend an Australian Open title.
What Can We Expect From This Match?
Elena Rybakina and Victoria Azarenka have met once before. It was in March 2022 at Indian Wells. Rybakina won the match 6-3, 6-4. The courts in Indian Wells play much slower than they do here, and it can be argued that on this surface Rybakina has even more of an advantage.
Even though it is two former Grand Slam champions facing off, the WTA odds heavily favor Elena Rybakina. This makes sense to me, as she has piled up more impressive wins and shown more impressive form in her run to the semifinals.
While both players prefer to use power to win their matches, Rybakina has the skills to overpower Azarenka. She is also deceptively fast for her size and has the advantage in court coverage at this current stage of their career. Azarenka has not lost a bit of power since her previous championship wins here at the Australian Open, but age has slightly diminished her court coverage.
The difference in this match will be the serve. The Kazakhstani’s ability to control points and hold serve will help propel her to her second Grand Slam Final. Rybakina has exceptional placement on her serve and she can target Vika’s backhand on the “ad side” to win most of the crucial points.
This should be a great match between a young up-and-coming star and a popular veteran on the tour. Rybakina’s powerful serve will lead her to get easy holds and put pressure on the Belarusian veteran. Unfortunately for Azarenka, youth will be served today. Our best bets for tonight's Australian Open semifinal are Elena Rybakina -3.5 games and Elena Rybakina Over 9.5 aces.
Tennis Pick: Elena Rybakina -3.5 games (-101) at Bookmaker
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.