Elena Rybakina once again proved too much for world no.
Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion who stunned top seed Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open en route to the final, will now get a chance to turn the tables on Aryna Sabalenka, who beat her in Melbourne Win a first Grand Slam title.
World No. 2 Sabalenka advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over seventh-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.
Rybakina, ranked No. 10 in the world, was all over Swiatek from the opening game, drawing the lines with her hard groundstrokes and serving with pinpoint precision.
Swiatek, winner of last year’s French Open and US Open in a campaign that spanned eight titles in all, simply had no answer, giving up the first set with a double fault at the first set point.
It was similar in the second game when Rybakina took a 5-0 lead. Swiatek, who revealed after the match that she was struggling with ‘discomfort’ in her chest, finally managed to hold at 5-1 and lunged for the break when Rybakina suddenly hit her first serve in the next game had fight.
Rybakina still managed to collect two match points at the 40-15 level, but Swiatek saved one with an overhead and another with a blistering return of a second serve, winning two more points to close out the break for 5-2.
But there would be no comeback. A miss as Swiatek seemed to chase a ball back to the baseline, Rybakina handed another match point and she converted it with confidence.
“I didn’t expect to play so well today,” admitted Rybakina, who fought her way through three sets to beat Czech Karolina Muchova in the quarterfinals.
“Hopefully I’ll play like that on Sunday,” she added after turning down Swiatek’s offer to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles in the California desert since Martina Navratilova in 1990/91.
Swiatek, who said she still expects to defend her title at the Miami Open, which starts next week, was disappointed she couldn’t go through with her coach’s ideas of stopping Rybakina.
“We thought more about the Australian Open as if we wanted to learn a lesson from this match,” she said. “I wanted to use his tips and improve my game. But that wasn’t possible today.”
Sabalenka had to fight back after a set to beat Rybakina in the Australian Open final and the Kazakh was optimistic she could avenge that defeat in the upcoming clash of reigning Grand Slam champions.
“If I play like I did today, I think I have every chance,” she said.
– exchange of blows on the stadium square –
Sabalenka defeated Sakkari in a slugfest on Stadium Court.
Playing with supreme confidence, Sabalenka opened with a quick service hold that included two aces and broke Sakkari 3-1.
Sakkari immediately broke back when Sabalenka made a double fault at the breakpoint. But the Belarusian won the next five games to bag the set and take a 2-0 lead in the second.
Sakkari, perhaps trying to overdo it in the face of Sabalenka’s powerful groundstrokes, made three forehand errors to hit her triple set point.
She saved two with a service winner and an ace, but fired another forehand out of court on the third.
Sabalenka rolled and broke Sakkari again with a searing backhand service that returned the line for a 2-0 lead in the second.
But she returned the break with a sloppy hold at love and Sakkari held to equal the set before Sabalenka stabilized to win three straight games.
Sabalenka said she may have let the match escape in previous years, but she now plays with a renewed sense of calm.
“In the past I’ve lost so many matches along with some not super smart mistakes,” she said. “I reminded myself it’s okay to make these mistakes, I’m not a robot. I can miss those shots and that’s probably why I was able to keep fighting and keep trying.”
After Sakkari gave up two game points in game six, Sabalenka drilled another serve return winner for a third break chance of the game, which she grabbed with a crosscourt forehand.
Sabalenka ended the match with 21 winners to Sakkari’s nine as she denied her opponent a return to the Indian Wells final.
Source : sports.yahoo.com