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.
In the second round too, Ryabkina took a 5-0 lead. Swiatek eventually held her own at 5–1, and pounced to break as Rybakina suddenly struggled with her first serve in the next game.
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.
“I had nothing to lose, I just wanted to enjoy and it really worked in my favour. I played one of the best matches of the year.
“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.
Sabalenka had come from a set down to defeat Ryabkina in the Australian Open final, and the Kazakh was optimistic she would avenge that loss in the battle for the reigning Grand Slam champion.
“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.
He finished the match with 21 winners to Sakkari’s nine as he denied Sakkari a return to the Indian Wells final.