Elena Rybakina defeated world number one Iga Swiatek in a 6-2, 6-2 semi-final win on Friday, denying the defending champion a return to the Indian Wells final.
Elena Rybakina defeated world number one Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-2 in the semi-finals on Friday, denying the defending winner a return to the Indian Wells final. The reigning Wimbledon champion, who stunned top-seeded Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open on her route to the final, will now have a chance to avenge Aryna Sabalenka, who defeated her in Melbourne to win her first Grand Slam title. Sabalenka advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Greece’s seventh-seeded Maria Sakkari.
Rybakina, rated 10th in the world, dominated Swiatek from the start, painting the lines with punishing ground strokes and serving with pinpoint accuracy.
Swiatek, who won the French and US Opens last year as part of an eight-title campaign, had no response and surrendered the first set with a double-fault on the first set point.
The second was more of the same, with Rybakina racing to a 5-0 advantage. Swiatek, who revealed after the match that she was experiencing “discomfort” in her ribcage, eventually held for 5-1 and pounced to break when Rybakina suddenly struggled with her first serve in the next game.
Rybakina still had two match points at 40-15, but Swiatek saved one with an overhead and another with a powerful return of a second serve, completing the break for 5-2.
However, there would be no return. Swiatek looked to trip while chasing a ball back to the baseline, giving Rybakina another match point, which she confidently converted.
“I didn’t expect to play that well today,” Rybakina admitted after defeating Czech Karolina Muchova in the quarter-finals in three sets.