(Brisbane) Almost a year after playing in the final of the Australian Open, Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina will face each other in the ultimate match of a preparatory event for the first major tournament of 2024.
Sabalenka, seeded number one, dominated her compatriot Victoria Azarenka by winning 6-2, 6-4 on Saturday, which allowed her to qualify for the final of the Brisbane International Tournament against Rybakina.
Sabalenka has now won her last 15 singles matches on Australian soil. That streak includes a title in Adelaide last year, before her Grand Slam breakthrough at Melbourne Park, where she beat Rybakina in three sets.
Sabalenka had 10 aces and 35 winners against Azarenka. The latter appeared to injure her right knee late in the match, but later said it was not a major problem.
For her part, Rybakina had 26 winners, eight aces and made just 10 unforced errors to beat 19-year-old Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-2.
The men’s final will also pit the top two seeds against each other.
Tournament favorite Holger Rune qualified by beating Roman Safiullin 6-4, 7-6 (0) and Grigor Dimitrov beat Jordan Thompson 6-3, 7-5.
Since a narrow victory against Andy Murray to start the tournament, Dimitrov has not conceded a single round.
Dimitrov erased a 0-40 deficit in the seventh of the second set, saving four break points in the process. He broke Thompson’s serve in the 11th game of the set before ending the duel on his serve.
In the quarterfinals on Friday evening, Thompson pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament by eliminating Spaniard Rafael Nadal in a match that lasted almost three and a half hours.
Thompson saved three match points before defeating Nadal, who is attempting a return to play after an absence of about a year due to injury.