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Elena Rybakina to face Ons Jabeur in women’s final at Wimbledon

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Elena Rybakina in action during her Ladies' Singles semi-final match against Simona Halep on centre court on day eleven of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire. Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos.

Elena Rybakina in action during her Ladies' Singles semi-final match against Simona Halep on centre court on day eleven of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire. Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos.

Elena Rybakina in action during her Ladies' Singles semi-final match against Simona Halep on centre court on day eleven of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Thursday July 7, 2022. PA Photo. See PA story TENNIS Wimbledon. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PA Wire. Editorial use only. No commercial use without prior written consent of the AELTC. Still image use only - no moving images to emulate broadcast. No superimposing or removal of sponsor/ad logos.

Russian-born Elena Rybakina stunned former champion Simona Halep in straight sets to reach a maiden Wimbledon final.

The 23-year-old's relentless display of powerful hitting proved too much for 2019 winner Halep as a 6-3 6-3 victory booked a Saturday showdown with third seed Ons Jabeur.

Rybakina, who was born in Moscow and still lives there, dodged Wimbledon's ban on Russian players having switched to represent Kazakhstan four years ago.

That decision, taken in order to receive more funding, has paid dividends for both parties as the world number 23 became the first Kazakh player to reach a grand slam final.

Halep had blitzed her way past seeded opponents Paula Badosa and Amanda Anisimova as she looked for a third major title.

But the Romanian could not buy a first serve, with nine double faults to Rybakina's five aces telling its own story.

It was a double fault, followed by a fizzing forehand winner, that gave Rybakina an early break.

At 4-1 Rybakina successfully challenged a line call to bring up two more break points but this time Halep wriggled out of trouble.

But the pressure from Rybakina was telling and another double fault brought up a set point which Halep also had to negotiate to hold for 5-3.

It was just putting off the inevitable, though, with a 118mph ace giving Rybakina three set points.

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Halep saved two but when a forehand floated wide Rybakina had impressively clinched the first set in 37 minutes.

Things went from bad to worse for Halep at the start of the second with two more double faults, the second on break point, putting Rybakina seemingly in control.

This time Halep was able to break back, but her good work was immediately undone by another serving blip.

At 5-3 on the Halep serve Rybakina struck the killer blow, a booming backhand down the line to secure her place in the final.

"Simona is a great champion but I was really focused today and really happy with my performance," she said.

"I was nervous, of course, but the matches I had before on Court One helped. It was my first time on Centre Court but the atmosphere I had before helped me a lot.

"I think today I was mentally prepared and did everything I could. It was an amazing match.

"Ons is a very good, very tricky player and it's not going to be easy to play her drop shots. But I think it's going to be a great match."

Jabeur, meanwhile, ended the magical Wimbledon run of good friend Tatjana Maria and moved one victory away from creating her own fairytale story at the All England Club.

Tunisian-born Jabeur edged an entertaining Centre Court encounter 6-2 3-6 6-1 to remain on course to be the first woman from an Arab country and the continent of Africa to win a grand slam.

The third seed proved too good for Maria in the end but the mum-of-two went down fighting after bringing her remarkable 35th appearance at a major to its conclusion in the semi-final stage.

Maria had never made the second week of a grand slam before this summer and only gave birth last April but lost out to first-time finalist Jabeur, who the 34-year-old will likely be backing to win in Saturday's showpiece.


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