MELBOURNE, Australia -- The Australian Open women's singles final is set. No.5 Aryna Sabalenka is into her first major final and will face reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.
Can the 23-year-old Rybakina join Naomi Osaka and Iga Swiatek as the only players under 25 to hold multiple Slam titles? Or will 24-year-old Sabalenka maintain her undefeated start to the season and finally break through to capture the biggest title of her career?
Here's what you need to know ahead of the first Grand Slam final of the season:
When is the women's singles final?
The Australian Open singles final will be played on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (AEDT) on Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park.
What are the points and prize-money at stake?
By making the final, Rybakina and Sabalenka have each earned 1,300 points and $1,625,000 AUD.
By virtue of making her second major final in the last 12 months, Rybakina will make her Top 10 debut on Monday. She can move as high as No.8 if she wins on Saturday.
Sabalenka will move to No.2 after the Australian Open by making the final.
The winner on Sunday will leave the first Slam of the season with 2,000 points and a check for $2,975,000 AUD.
How did Sabalenka and Rybakina get here?
Rybakina has endured the tougher road to the final. She defeated last year's finalist Danielle Collins in the third round, World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the fourth round, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals and two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.
Sabalenka has continued her outstanding form from Adelaide, defeating 26th seed Elise Mertens in the third round, No.12 seed Belinda Bencic in the fourth round, Donna Vekic in the quarterfinals and surprise semifinalist Magda Linette.
How do they stack up?
Sabalenka has won all three previous meetings against Rybakina, with all three matches going a full three sets. Their last meeting came at Wimbledon, with Sabalenka winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 in the Round of 16 at 2021 Wimbledon. Their last match on a hard court came at 2021 Abu Dhabi, where Sabalenka won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 along the way to the title.
10 - Aryna Sabalenka is the third female player this Century to win her first 10 seasonal matches without dropping a single set after Anna Smashnova in 2002 and Agnieszka Radwanska in 2013. Unerring.@WTA_insider @WTA | #AusOpen #AustralianOpen #AustralianOpen2023 pic.twitter.com/AXUVHkvfoW— OptaAce (@OptaAce) January 26, 2023
Sabalenka has not lost a set at Melbourne Park. Rybakina has lost one, in the third round against Collins.
In a match that will pit two of the most powerful serves in women's tennis against each other, Sabalenka has been broken only six times in six matches. Rybakina has been broken 10 times.
What milestones are at stake on Saturday?
By starting her season with a title run at the Adelaide International 1, Sabalenka has now won 10 consecutive matches and 20 consecutive sets. This is the best single-season win streak of her career.
Sabalenka is bidding to become the 58th different woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era. Rybakina became the 57th with her Wimbledon run last summer.
Elena Rybakina is attempting to become the first woman to defeat three former Grand Slam champions (Iga Swiatek, Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka) en route to the Australian Open title since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 (Hingis, Davenport and Seles).
If Rybakina wins the final, it'll be the first time two players have held two Slams each since the start of 2004 (Serena Williams and Justine Henin).
Rybakina is trying to become the youngest Australian Open champion since Naomi Osaka in 2021. A win would make her the youngest woman to win Wimbledon and Australian Open since Maria Sharapova in 2008.
A win over No.5 Sabalenka would be Rybakina's fifth Top 5 win of her career, having already tallied her fourth by defeating No.1 Swiatek in the fourth round. She is looking for her third consecutive win against Top 5 opposition at a major.
Whoever wins Saturday will become a first-time Australian Open champion for the first time since Sofia Kenin three years ago. The last two women to play their first Australian Open final lost (Danielle Collins vs. Ashleigh Barty in 2022 and Jennifer Brady vs. Naomi Osaka in 2021).
What are they saying?
Sabalenka: "I'm not going to do something extra. I think that's OK to feel a little bit nervous. It's a big tournament, big final. If you're going to start trying to do something about that, it's going to become bigger, you know?
"I'll just leave it like that. It's OK to feel nervous."
Rybakina: "It's going to be a tough battle. I think as today, maybe I will not have to serve that big, that fast, so it doesn't really matter the speed. It's important to have a good placement on the serve. In these conditions, to serve full, full power, it's not easy. The ball is not really going.
"The same on the baseline. Just to play more deeper and do the same thing, try to come forward, just to expect maybe longer rallies than usual."
Sabalenka: "She's playing great tennis, serving well. I just have to be there and have to, again, work for it and put her under pressure."
Rybakina: "Overall I think on the baseline I was playing really well. I was trying to come forward. I think I just need to keep on doing the same thing, no matter the conditions.
"Today I know how it feels to play in the evening outside with an open roof. I get this match and I try to take everything from this match and bring it to the final."