Elena Rybakina reached a first Wimbledon final on Thursday as she defeated 2019 champion Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3 in the semis. The 23-year-old will now face Ons Jabeur, who beat Tatjana Maria in the first semifinal, for the title.

The first set saw Halep struggle with her serve and get broken twice. The Romanian, who hadn’t dropped a set in the first five rounds of the tournament, found moments of inspiration but was pegged back repeatedly by unforced errors.

Rybakina, meanwhile, was solid for nearly the entirety of the match. She dominated from the baseline and apart from getting broken once in the second set, dictated play with her powerful groundstrokes and serves.

Rybakina’s best performance at a Grand Slam prior to Wimbledon 2022 was a quarterfinal appearance at the 2021 French Open. On Thursday, she became the youngest women’s singles finalist at Wimbledon since 2015.

Moscow-born Rybakina switched her nationality to Kazakhstan in 2018 to take advantage of greater financial help. She now finds herself in the final at the same tournament from which Russian and Belarusian players were banned following the invasion of Ukraine.

Standing at 6 feet (1.84 metres), world No 23 Rybakina is the big-hitting star of the women’s tournament, firing an event-leading 44 aces over the first five rounds.

Former world No 1 Halep, who had hoped to recreate the “perfect match” that delivered the 2019 Wimbledon title, collected her second Grand Slam crown at the All England Club three years ago.

With AFP inputs