The tennis world has once again reacted with disbelief towards Jelena Ostapenko after a cold handshake with winner Elena Rybakina in her quarter-final loss at the Australian Open. Rybakina has continued her remarkable form - which saw her win a maiden grand slam title in 2022 - to outclass Ostapenko and advance to her second semi-final in the last three majors.
The Kazakhstan champion was all over Ostapenko from the start as she didn't allow the Latvian any time to dominate from the baseline. Ostapenko was clearly frustrated and continued to question the line technology throughout the first set.
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Rybakina didn't let up in the second set and was hitting the ball down the line with perfection. The 23-year-old closed out the match 6-2, 6-4. However, as always with Ostapenko, many tennis fans were curious to see how the Latvian would react towards her opponent after the one-sided encounter.
And Ostapenko offered a 'drive-by' handshake towards Rybakina at the net. She also picked up her bags and was off the court within a matter of seconds.
Ostapenko has been at the centre of a number of feuds with tennis players with retired tennis great Caroline Wozniacki recently opening up about why she refused to practice with the Latvian. Australian Ajla Tomjanovic was also involved in a huge blow-up with Ostapenko during Wimbledon in 2021.
Tennis fans were quick to notice the interaction between the quiet and humble Rybakina and the more volatile Ostapenko at the Australian Open. Many accused Ostapenko of 'poor sportsmanship' following her exit.
…and pretty much right by Rybakina… that was a walk-by handshake
— Cary-Grove Trojan Tennis (@CGHSTennis) January 24, 2023
— Andrew Jerell Jones, Luke 1:37 (IG:twdbk3) (@sluggahjells) January 24, 2023
— Mark A Prince Jr (@MarkAPrinceJr) January 24, 2023
Ostapenko has terrible sportsmanship.
— GBR 🏴☠️ (@GBRHatRoom) January 24, 2023
I’m wheezing at the handshake. Not penko ran out , I know she’s embarrassed 😂☠️
— Tezza ❗️ (@RezzaTezza) January 24, 2023
Ostapenko is the picture of poor sportsmanship.
— Patti M (@mamapatti55) January 24, 2023
Elena Rybakina continues super Australian Open form
Rybakina will be watching on tonight to find out if she plays World No.3 Jessica Pegula or two-time Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the semi-final.
During her match, rain started to fall as officials opted to shut the roof as Rybakina and Ostapenko left the court. However, it was the scenes afterwards that had fans in attendance baffled.
Despite all the technology on offer at grand slams, which include hawk-eye for every shot, ball kids were seen drying Rod Laver Arena with towels. Ball kids have been a major topic at this year's Australian Open.
Play was stopped for about half an hour as officials scrambled to mop up the saturated court. The delay didn't slow down Rybakina's momentum after she converted a 3-1 first-set advantage into a fourth straight-sets victory from five matches this campaign.
"The conditions were different, but then we expected that it can happen in Australia. You never know," Rybakina said after the match. "In the morning, one weather, then in a few hours it changes so you have to be ready always. There is the beauty of this sport. Everybody needs to adapt and I think I did really well from the beginning of the match."
The 23-year-old World No.25 broke the 17th-seeded Ostapenko twice in each set and finished with 24 winners to the Latvian's 19 in a dominant display. She sealed victory with her 11th ace after 79 minutes to take her Open tally to a women's tournament-leading 35.
"I am super happy to be in the semi-final. It was an amazing atmosphere. Thank you very much, everybody," Rybakina told the crowd. "Of course, I was nervous, especially in the last game, to be honest. Not as nervous as before the match. I am super happy that I managed with emotions and I played very well today."
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