Indian Wells: Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina defeated World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets to claim her maiden WTA 1000 title and her fourth overall.
By Sabyasachi Chowdhury: Prior to the Indian Wells women’s singles final, the odds were stacked against Elena Rybakina since she had lost all her previous four matches against Aryna Sabalenka. But her confidence level was on the higher side after she defeated World No.1 Iga Swiatek in straight sets in the semi-final.
The 23-year-old Kazakhstan star carried her form to the final and defeated Sabalenka 7-6 (13-11), 6-4 in straight sets. With the triumph, Rybakina won her maiden WTA 1000 title and her fourth trophy overall.
Rybakina and Sabalenka were also involved in their first straight-setter after all their previous four games went into the final set. In the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, Sabalenka rallied back from a set down to come up trumps against Rybakina and win her maiden Grand Slam.
But this time around, the Belarusian star failed to make a comeback. It also happened to be Sabalenka’s second defeat in 2023 after losing to Barbora Krejcikova in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Tennis Championship last month.
The opening set turned out to be an absolute humdinger. Sabalenka faced a set point, but she managed to save it and take the first set into a tie-break. Both players fought tooth and nail before an unforced error from Sabalenka gave the set to Rybakina.
Rybakina earned an early break and made it 5-2 in the second set. But Sabalenka earned her second service break and held her serve to make it 5-4. But she ran out of gas as Rybakina served out the match.
Sabalenka faced problems with her second serve and that was evident from the 10 double faults she made. Rybakina hit the most aces in the Australian Open and she hit seven in the final, giving an account of her ability to perform under pressure.