The Brisbane International is being played in Australia this week for the first time since 2019 with both a men’s and women’s draw. It’s the second-to-last tournament before the Australian Open, the first of four grand slams in the 2024 tennis season. While world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and other top WTA players opted instead to compete in the United Cup, the women’s draw in Brisbane nonetheless featured several high-profile players, including Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, both of whom are through to the semi-finals.

The WTA Brisbane semi-finals begin Friday night at 10 p.m. ET with the first of two semi-finals. The finals will be played Saturday night, or Sunday morning in Australia. Here’s a look at the two semi-final matches and what to expect for the final.

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A Review of the Draw

The 48-player draw featured a high contingent of Russian players as the country was banned from competing in the mixed-gender United Cup. Six of the top eight seeds were from Russia. Sabalenka, the top seed, earned her spot in the semis with three consecutive straight set victories over Lucia Bronzetti, Zhu Lin, Daria Kasatkina, dropping only nine games in that stretch. Her semi-final opponent, Victoria Azarenka, reached the semis with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 quarter-final win over Jelena Ostapenko.

Rybakina, meanwhile, advanced to the semi-finals after her quarter-final opponent, Anastasia Potapova, retired in the second set. She also beat Elise Mertens and Olivia Gadecki. Her semi-final opponent, Linda Noskova, earned a spot in the final four with an upset win over Mirra Andreeva in the quarters.

Semi-Final Previews

Elena Rybakina (-526) vs. Linda Noskova (+377)

Both of these semi-finals feel inevitable. Rybakina and Sabalenka are far and away the best players in the draw and are likely to meet in another WTA final. Noskova, however, has the benefit of playing with nothing to lose. The Czech player needed three sets – and two tiebreaks – to beat qualifier Timea Babos in the first round and won her next two matches in three sets before scoring a straight set win over Andreeva. She could be peaking at the right moment, but she’s in tough against Rybakina.

Rybakina and Noskova have played each other just once on the WTA Tour, with Rybakina winning last June in straight sets on clay courts in Paris. Rybakina is also a much better hard court player and should be able to take advantage of that on Saturday.

Aryna Sabalenka (-667) vs. Victoria Azarenka (+454)

While Azarenka is a much more experienced and arguably talented player than Noskova, she still doesn’t have much of a chance against the far more talented Sabalenka, who is a massive betting favorite with tennis odds of -667. Sabalenka has cruised through to the semi-finals, whereas Azarenka has needed three sets to win each of her last two matches. 

Sabalenka, who is nearly 10 years younger than Azarenka, has been on court almost three hours fewer than Azarenka and is 3-1 in her career against the fellow Russian. She’s also a dominant hard court player, going through 38-9 over the last two seasons.

Finals Prediction

Sabalenka is 5-2 in seven career matches against Rybakina so, assuming that’s the match-up, she will have the advantage in tennis odds and predictions. She’s 4-2 against her on hard court.

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