Ruthless Rybakina wins Indian Wells title
In a replay of the last Australian Open final, Elena Rybakina turned the tables on Aryna Sabalenka.
Rybakina, who lost to Sabalenka 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 at Melbourne Park, defeated the Belarusian for the first time in five tries with a 7-6 (11), 6-4 victory in the BNP Paribas Open – Championship game on Sunday afternoon. The Kazakh triumphed after two hours and four minutes.
Double faults spoil Sabalenka in the first set
What the opening movement lacked in tennis quality it made up for in drama. Sabalenka capitalized on an early break but given her troubles on serve (10 double faults in the set) it never looked like she would keep the advantage. In fact, the world No. 2 was broken 4-3. Sabalenka secured a set point on serve 5-6 to force an exciting tie-break.
Both players took turns with double faults at their own set points. In total, Rybakina had five set points, and Sabalenka had two. The 2022 Wimbledon champion finally converted her fifth chance at 12-11 when Sabalenka blundered with a long forehand.
Rybakina races to victory
The Indian Wells No. 2 couldn’t recover from the disastrous service that cost her the opener. Despite not once committing a double fault in the opening game of the second set, she was still broken on serve.
From then on it was pretty much all over for Sabalenka. Rybakina was racing towards a 5-2 lead so it hardly mattered as she dropped serve in her first attempt to end things. On the downwind side of the court at 5-4, the No. 10 made no mistake.
Rybakina finished the game with seven aces compared to just two double faults. Sabalenka didn’t have a single double fault in the second set, but she still had six more double faults (10) than Aces (four).
The 23-year-old will move up to seventh in the rankings on Monday and head to the Miami Open. She would be No. 3 if Wimbledon had awarded ranking points (2,000 for Rybakina) last summer.