Indian Wells (USA), March 18 (IANS) Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina advanced to her first WTA 1000 final after ending No.1 Iga Swiatek's title defense at the Indian Wells Masters, here.
The World No.10 notched her second win over Swiatek this season, winning 6-2, 6-2 in Friday night's semifinals.
Having defeated Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open in January, Rybakina is now the second woman ever to defeat a reigning World No.1 at the Australian Open and Indian Wells in the same year after Lindsay Davenport in 2000. She is also the first player to win multiple matches over a reigning No.1 since 2019.
"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, " Rybakina said.
"But it's the goal, you never feel amazing and perfect every match. I think today was just really good for me," she added.
Rybakina will face World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka for the title on Sunday in a rematch of the electric Australian Open final in January. There, Sabalenka edged Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to win her first major title. Sabalenka leads the head-to-head 4-0 but all their matches have gone the full three sets.
Serving at 61% first serves in, Rybakina won 82% of her first serve points (28/34) and was a perfect 5 for 5 on break points. She struck 18 winners to just 12 unforced errors while holding Swiatek to just 9 winners and 17 unforced errors.
After the match, Swiatek revealed she had been managing a rib issue during the tournament. She will remain in California to get additional tests. For now, she is still planning to play the Miami Open, which begins on Tuesday.
"Honestly, I haven't played with a lot of injuries. It's a new situation for me, for sure. Last time I played with an injury, like the only tournament I can remember is like Roland Garros 2019. So I was pretty young," Swiatek said.
"Now it's a totally different level. So I feel like going on that matches you have to be 100% fit," she added.
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