Rybakina outlasts Azarenka in third-set tiebreak, advances to Miami Open final

Elena Rybakina prevailed in a three-setter against Victoria Azarenka at the WTA Miami 1000 on Thursday. Rybakina’s reward is a showdown for the title against either Ekaterina Alexandrova or Danielle Collins.

Elena Rybakina, Miami 2024 Elena Rybakina, Miami 2024 | © Julien Nouet for Tennis Majors

Elena Rybakina has endured plenty of adversity during the Sunshine Double, and she certainly didn’t have an easy time of things on Thursday afternoon at the Miami Open.

However, Rybakina has battled through the obstacles and is one victory away from winning one of the two 1000-point tournaments after defeating Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (2) in the semi-finals. The world No 4 advanced after two hours and 33 minutes, setting up a final against either Ekaterina Alexandrova or Danielle Collins.

Rybakina won only five points in the entire second set. A surge in Azarenka’s form coincided with the Kazakh losing her way both mentally and physically. After falling behind by a quick break in the second, Rybakina admittedly let her mind wander to an inevitable third set.

It proved to be a reasonable decision, as Rybakina rebounded impressively in the decider. Miami’s No 4 seed failed to serve out the match at 5-4, but she recovered in emphatic fashion in the ensuing tiebreak — dominating it with the loss of just two points


Rybakina’s entire month has been as difficult as Thursday’s match. She wasn’t even able to play the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells due to illness.

She recovered enough to take the court in Miami but still isn’t feeling 100 percent. Adding insult to injury, she has endured multiple grueling matches throughout the fortnight — not just the semi-final thriller against Azarenka. Rybakina also beat Clara Tauson, Taylor Townsend and Maria Sakkari in three sets. Only her fourth-round win over Madison Keys has been a straight-setter.

Thus it makes some sense that Rybakina let the second set against Azarenka get away from her without spending too much energy.

“It was really tough in the second set,” the 2022 Wimbledon champion commented. “She started really aggressive and after the first three games I knew it was going to be difficult to come back. Mentally I started getting ready for the third set.

“Physically I’m not at my best. I took a break (after the second set) and was fighting for every point…. In the tiebreak I just decided to go for it. It went my way…. I don’t remember that has been this difficult physically for me. I will try to keep on going until the end.”

The end will come on Saturday against either Alexandrova or Collins. Rybakina is 1-3 in the head-to-head series with Alexandrova and 3-1 with Azarenka.

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