- Elena Rybakina defeated Aryna Sabalenka
- Sabalenka defeated Rybakina in the Australian Open final
- Her victory over Sabalenka pushes her ranking to world No. 7
After a heated Australian Open final, Elena Rybakina lost to Aryna Sabalenka but she quickly settled scores by beating Sabalenka at the Indian Wells to scoop her first win in the 2023 WTA season.
Her victory over Sabalenka pushes her ranking to world No. 7 and marks her four major career win. She said that her victory wasn’t easy to attain, but she worked through it for the last two nights.
Rybakina recognised the need to have an unbreakable serve after learning from her four prior defeats by Sabalenka.
She won a first-set tiebreaker, which turned out to be an important point in the game and possibly in this new rivalry.
Speaking of the game after victory, Rybakina said that Sabalenka played well but she eventually lost to her.
“We both had chances [in the first set], but in the end, it went my way. So I think it was important this first set, and then it was a bit easier to start the second with an early break.
“This tiebreak was really epic, I would say, with all these double faults and nerves. So in the end, it was just focusing on every point and try to fight till the end,” reports Tennis365.
After proving her excellent form by defeating Swiatek in straight sets in the semifinals, Rybakina upset Sabalenka to become the first woman to defeat both the world No. 1 and world No. 2 at Indian Wells in the same year.
Rybakina was more successful on Sunday with her second service, winning 52% of the points with a substitute delivery. Only one-third of the second-serve points Sabalenka won in this championship match were won with her serve.
Sabalenka has now lost just once all season, giving her a year-to-date record of 17-2. By winning the Indian Wells championship in addition to the ones in Adelaide and Melbourne, Sabalenka hopes to make history in 2023 by being the first player to win three titles.
She together with Belinda Bencic, the winners of the Adelaide International 2 and the Abu Dhabi Open respectively are still tied for the most victories this year.
Her Sunday’s loss was her in five WTA 1000 finals overall. She won the opening break for 3-2 on a nice lob, but she double-failed to give the break back, levelling the match at 4-4.
When Sabalenka made a second double fault at 6-5, Rybakina was awarded a set point. Yet Rybakina erred on that front.
During the tense 17-minute tiebreak, which saw the two players trading punches almost incessantly, Rybakina missed four more set points.
Sabalenka used powerful forehands to gain two set points of her own in that tiebreaker, but she also blew those chances.
Sabalenka committed her tenth double fault at 12-11, giving Rybakina her sixth set point, which the defending Wimbledon champion converted following a long forehand from Sabalenka. This year so far in tiebreaks, Rybakina is 6-0.