Elena Rybakina reaches Australian Open final after win over Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka’s bid for a third Australian Open title is OVER after Elena Rybakina dominates the Belarusian veteran to reach the final

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has ended Victoria Azarenka’s inspired run to be the first woman through to the Australian Open final in Melbourne.

Continuing her relentless charge through the draw, Rybakina overpowered the two-time former champion 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in Thursday night’s opening semi-final at Rod Laver Arena.

The Kazakh’s victory was her third straight over a grand slam champion after ousting world No.1 and reigning French and US Open titIeholder Iga Swiatek in the fourth round and 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals.

Victoria Azarenka has been knocked out of the Australian Open at the semi final stage

The Belarusian veteran was aiming to win her third Australian Open title in Melbourne

The Belarusian veteran was aiming to win her third Australian Open title in Melbourne

Chasing her second major title in less than eight months, the 23-year-old will face either Belarusian world No.5 Aryna Sabalenka or unseeded Pole Magda Linette for the trophy on Saturday night.

Azarenka was the last player to successfully defend the women’s crown at Melbourne Park, going back to back in 2012 and 2013, and bidding to join greats Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Kim Clijsters as only the fourth mother to win a grand slam singles crown.

But as valiant as she was, the 33-year-old couldn’t go the distance with an emerging superstar, a decade her junior.

However, she was overpowered by Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina on Rod Laver Arena

However, she was overpowered by Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina on Rod Laver Arena

Contesting her 11th Australian Open semi-final 11 years after her first, Azarenka’s fighting spirit was on full show in a rollercoaster first set.

She rallied from 5-3 down and set point in the eighth game to take the first set to a tiebreaker, only to lose it with a wild forehand error on Rybakina’s second set point.

The former world No.1 dropped serve to fall behind 3-1 in the second, then again in seventh game to trail 5-2.

Azarenka broke Rybakina the following game but the reprieve merely proved a stay of execution as the Russian-born world No.25 quickly regrouped to take the match after one hour, 41 minutes.

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