Rybakina routs Swiatek to set up Indian Wells final against Sabalenka

Elena Rybakina defeated Iga Swiatek for the second time this season with a straight-set victory on Friday in Indian Wells. Rybakina will battle Aryna Sabalenka for the title on Sunday.

Elena Rybakina and Iga Swiatek, Indian Wells 2023 Elena Rybakina and Iga Swiatek, Indian Wells 2023 | © Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

Almost everyone on tour is finding it nearly impossible to beat Iga Swiatek these days. Elena Rybakina, however, is having no such trouble.

For the second time in as many meetings this season, Rybakina beat Swiatek in straight sets — this time via a 6-2, 6-2 beatdown in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday evening. The Kazakh had previously upset the world No 1 6-4, 6-4 in round four of the Australian Open.

This one was even more convincing. Rybakina jumped all over Swiatek right away, breaking in the second game of the match en route to a 3-0 advantage. The 2022 Wimbledon champion maintained the lead throughout the first set, after which the second set was even more dominant. Rybakina raced ahead 5-0, so it hardly mattered that she finally got broken for the first time at 5-2. She broke again to clinch victory, converting her third championship point after missing two on her own serve in the previous game.

Rybakina finished the contest 5-for-5 on break-point opportunities.

Rybakina: “I played unbelievable”

“Today was really great match for me, because I played unbelievable — I would say one of the best matches I played this year. Hopefully I can keep the level for Sunday.

“I think just my aggressive style of the game,” she added when asked about what gives Swiatek trouble. “Big serves…. I think that just overall some players it’s more difficult to play against. With Iga, she’s tough — really tough opponent. But when I play [this well] and everything goes in…because today some moments I played [at] my highest level…there are moments where you feel, ‘I can beat anyone if I always play like this.’

“It’s the goal, but you never feel amazing and perfect every match. I think today it was just really good from me.”

Swiatek agreed.

“For sure Elena played great tennis today, and I feel like against her I have to play better,” the top seed explained. “She was playing really well. I’m pretty sad that I lost, but on the other hand overall it’s a pretty good tournament for me.

“Honestly I feel like it’s still more me and kind of my mistakes. I’m also like not feeling 100 percent physically. I have a little like discomfort in my rib, and we’re going to consult with medical team. For sure I’m gonna use these days off before Miami, so actually I have one more day.”

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