Elena Rybakina’s defeated Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (13-11), 6-4 on Sunday to win her first Indian Wells Masters. Rybakina became the first player from Kazakhstan to win the crown and it was also her maiden WTA 1000 success. The Kazakh had faced Sabalenka in the final of the Australian Open earlier this year but was defeated 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 back then. On Sunday, she exacted her revenge on the Belarusian and won one of the most prestigious championships in world tennis today. Rybakina, who is the reigning Wimbledon champion, defeated the likes of world no. 1 Iga Swiatek, Paula Badosa, Karolina Muchova and others to get to the final. Facing Sabalenka was never going to be an easy task but after a thrilling first set, Rybakina put the foot on the pedal and convincingly won the second set to take the Indian Wells title.
The 10th seed hit seven aces compared to Sabalenka’s four. She only committed two double faults, eight more than her opponent on the day. Rybakina’s win percentages on the first and second serves were 61% and 59% respectively. She also managed to return three out of 10 break points.
Career best ranking for Rybakina
In the semifinals, Rybakina had already demonstrated her excellent form by eliminating Swiatek in straight sets. Rybakina became the first player to beat both the World No. 1 and World No. 2 at Indian Wells in the same year when she defeated Sabalenka as a follow-up. In Monday’s updated singles rankings, Rybakina is anticipated to move up from her current career-high ranking of No. 10 to a new career-high ranking of World No. 7.
A little piece of history
The Australian Open finalists re-met in the Indian Wells final for just the third time in history. This is the first time this century that the Australian Open runner-up avenged her loss in the Indian Wells final. This also occurred in 2000 (Lindsay Davenport defeated Martina Hingis in both finals) and 2012 (Victoria Azarenka beat Maria Sharapova in both finals).
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