Elena Rybkina again proved too much for world number one Inga Swiatek, with an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 victory in the semifinals on Friday to deny the defending champion a return to the Indian Wells final.
Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion who stormed into the Australian Open final after knocking out top seed Swiatek in the fourth round, will now get a chance to turn the tables on Aryna Sabalenka, who beat her in Melbourne to clinch the title Was. Captured the first Grand Slam title.
World number two Sabalenka registered a 6-2, 6-3 win over seventh seed Maria Sakkari of Greece.
World No. 10 Rybakina dominated Swiatek from the opening game, drawing lines with her ground strokes and serves with pinpoint accuracy.
Swiatek, winner of the French and US Open last year in a campaign that included eight titles in all, simply had no answer and surrendered the first set with a double fault on the first set point.
It was more of the same in the second as Rybakina raced to a 5–0 lead. Swiatek, who revealed after the match that she was suffering from “discomfort” in her ribcage, eventually managed to hold for 5–1, and pounced to break as Rybakina held on to her first serve in the next game. suddenly clashed with
Rybakina still managed to hold two match points at 40–15, but Swiatek saved one with an overhead and another with a blistering return of her second serve, winning two more points to complete the break for 5–2. .
But there will be no return. A mishit as Swiatek appeared to be chasing a ball back to the baseline gave Rybakina another match point and she converted it with confidence.
“I didn’t expect to play so well today,” admitted Rybakina, who beat Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic in three sets in the quarterfinals.
“Hopefully I’m going to play like this on Sunday,” she said after denying Swiatek’s bid to become the first woman since Martina Navratilova in 1990-91 to win back-to-back titles in the California desert. couple.
Swiatek, who said she still hopes to defend her title at the Miami Open, which starts next week, was disappointed she could not execute her coach’s ideas to stop Rybakina.
“We were thinking about the Australian Open more like we wanted to learn a lesson from that match in a way,” she said. “I wanted to use his tips and improve my game. But I wasn’t able to do that today.”
Sabalenka had come from a set down to defeat Rybkina in the Australian Open final, and the Kazakh was optimistic she could avenge that loss in the escalating battle for reigning Grand Slam champions.
“If I play like I did today, I think I have all the chances,” she said.
– Stadium Court Slugfest –
Sabalenka defeated Sakkari in a stadium court slugfest.
Playing with supreme confidence, Sabalenka opened with a quick service hold, followed up with two aces and broke Sakkari for a 3–1 lead.
Sakkari made a quick comeback as Sabalenka double faulted on break point. But the Belarusian won the next five games to win the set and take a 2–0 lead in the second.
Sakkari, perhaps trying to do too much in the face of Sabalenka’s powerful groundstrokes, committed three forehand errors to give her triple set points.
He saved two with a service winner and an ace but fired another forehand out of the court on the third.
Sabalenka was rolling, breaking Sakkari again with a blistering backhand serve for a 2-0 lead in the second.
But she broke back with a sloppy service game and Sakari held on to level the set before stabilizing Sabalenka to win three straight games.
Sabalenka said she may have let matches get away with her in years past, but now she is playing with a new sense of calm.
“I’ve lost a lot of matches like this in the past by not making some super-smart mistakes,” he said. “I kept reminding myself that it’s okay to make these mistakes, I’m not a robot. I might miss these shots and that’s probably why I kept fighting and trying.”
After Sakkari went down two game points in the sixth game, Sabalenka drilled another service return winner for her third break chance of the game, which she seized with a crosscourt forehand.
Sabalenka finished the match with 21 winners to Sakkari’s nine as she denied her opponent a return to the Indian Wells final.