Indian Wells set to stage Australian Open final rematch

2023 Australian Open women's final Elena Rybakina vs Aryna Sabalenka Indian Wells Credit: Alamy
2023 Australian Open women's final Elena Rybakina vs Aryna Sabalenka Indian Wells Credit: Alamy

The women’s singles at the Indian Wells Open comes down to a rematch of the Australian Open final after Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka won their respective semi-finals on Friday.

First up, Sabalenka made quick work of former world No 2 Maria Sakkari to book her place.

Sabalenka eased into her third final of the season with a 6-2, 6-3 victory snapping a two-match losing run against the Greek star.

Overcoming both Sakkari and the desert heat, Sabalenka prevailed in 1 hour and 23 minutes.

“I’m just super happy with another final and super happy with the win against Maria,” Sabalenka said in her post-match press conference. “She’s such a great fighter, and it’s always tough matches against her.

“I feel really good on court right now, but I also have understanding that it’s not going to be the same all the time. So that’s why I keep working hard, make sure in those days when things are not working my way, I still will be able to compete and to get these wins.”

Sabalenka improved her season to 17-1, having lost only five sets in the 18 matches she has contested this year.

She will take a small but not insignificant chunk out of world No 1 Iga Swiatek’s lead at the top of the rankings.

Swiatek lost her semi-final against bogeywoman Rybakina in convincing fashion and will see her lead drop below 4000 points.

Rybakina achieved an almost unique feat as she becomes just the second person to beat the reigning world no 1 at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells in the same season.

The Kazakhstan No 1 was at the top of her game as she picked apart the rankings queen to end Swiatek’s title defence.

“With Iga, she’s tough, really tough opponent, but when I play this good and everything goes in — because today some moments I played, I would say, on my highest level — [these are] moments where you can feel, okay, I can beat anyone if I always play like this.

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

Rybakina believes that holding her serve will be the key to coming out on top in her rematch against Sabalenka.

“I think [the key will be] just to play better in these important moments and hold the serve, because I think a few times it was just because of one break,” Rybakina said.

Both the men’s and women’s finals take place on Sunday at Indian Wells.

READ MORE: Elena Rybakina on criticism of her coach – ‘I think it was disrespectful to him and to me’

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