HomeSportsRybakina takes aim at Sabalenka again in Indian Wells final

Rybakina takes aim at Sabalenka again in Indian Wells final

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina will look to strike back at Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday when they clash for the Indian Wells title in a rematch of the Australian Open final won by the Belarusian.

Wimbledon champion Rybakina has lost all four career meetings against Sabalenka – but all four have gone the distance with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win in Melbourne to seal her first Grand Slam title with Sabalenka .

Rybakina, ranked No. 10 in the world, knows exactly what challenge she faces — and what she needs to do to meet it.

“I lost the last four times and it was always three sets,” she said. “I think in these important moments to play better and hold serve, because I think it was just because of a break.

“It’s not going to be an easy match and it’s going to be in these tough moments, I just need to play better.”

Like Melbourne, Rybakina advanced to the final after an upset win over world number one Iga Swiatek.

Swiatek, whose eight 2022 titles included the French and US Opens, was the defending Indian Wells champion, but Rybakina completely outclassed her, winning most of Swiatek’s first serve points as she converted all five of her break opportunities.

“I played at my highest level,” said Rybakina. “There are moments where you can feel, well, if I always play like this I can beat anybody.”

However, she will be facing an extremely confident opponent in Sabalenka, who has driven away the demons of 2022 and gone from strength to strength.

Sabalenka, who started her year with a title in Adelaide, is 17-1 this season, with her only loss coming in the quarterfinals in Dubai.

Determined to keep her feet on the ground, the player who calls herself “confident” makes her sound very cocky, admitting she thinks she is “one of the best” players in the world at the moment.

She is not taking it lightly.

“I feel really good on court right now, but I also understand it’s not going to be the same all the time,” Sabalenka said after her 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari in the semifinals.

“That’s why I keep working hard, to make sure that even on those days when things aren’t going my way, I’m still able to compete and get these wins.

“I just want to keep working, I just want to play my best tennis and keep winning.”

That she has been able to give her best so often this year is a result of solving problems with her serve and learning to control her emotions on the court.

Sabalenka said, “Because I struggled a lot last year, with my serve and so many things that happened last year, I would say I went through hell.”

“I think that’s why I’m able to stay more calm on the court. I’m able to control myself better and have the understanding that it’s just tennis.”




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