Rybakina gets her 21st win of the year

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Elena Rybakina is the show that keeps on giving.

Alison Van Uytvanck raised her arm in the air in pure astonishment… as Elena Rybakina’s forehand down the line on the run hit the line. Absolutely unreal. After 2h23 of a massive battle, the sensation of the start of the year, finalist in Dubai last week, was barely able to stand on her legs anymore but she found the last drop of energy to hit the shot of the day. On match point. That’s how Rybakina won her second round against the Belgian (5-7, 6-2, 7-6(8)), her 21s match since the start of the season. No player had reached the number 20 since the Russian Elena Dementieva in 2009. Rybakina, who doesn’t play for Russia anymore but Kazakhstan is paying her a nice hommage!

The will power she is showing is simply admirable. Same for the size of her heart and the strength of her guts. She was down a set but fought back by hitting winners and massive shots all over the place. She missed four match points (2 at 5-4, two in the tie-break), faced one a 7-8 but she kept going for her shots, she kept playing her brand of tennis. Absolutely fearless. The 20 years old, now 17 in the ranking, rapidly sat on her bench after match point, looking stunned. Confidence is an incredible weapon but still: it takes an amazing kind of player to do what Rybakina is doing this year. She has now won 12 matches in 15 days!

Rybakina would have had the game to be a nightmare for the World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the next round, but her heavy legs have had the last word even before that match. Barty would have been the David to Rybakina’s Goliath but we indeed won’t get to see it as Rybakina was, a few hours after the match, forced to withdraw from the tournament due to a leg injury. The fairytale will have to take a break for now. Youth recovers well, and who really knows the limits of Rybakina, so let’s hope for the game that she’ll be back, firing, on time for Indian Wells. Someone who doesn’t react on winners, who doesn’t react after match point won and actually who barely reacts at all during a match, might have some tricks unknown to anybody else out there, and we can’t wait to learn more about them.

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