Elena Rybakina registered a stunning straight-sets victory over World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinals of the WTA 1000 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Friday.
Swiatek was coming off a title win at the Qatar Open and a run to the finals at the Dubai Tennis Championships prior to competing at Indian Wells. However, Rybakina has proven to be a challenging opponent for the Pole as she ended Swiatek's campaign at the 2023 Australian Open in straight sets.
Rybakina started the Indian Wells semifinal in strong fashion with an early break in the first set. She consolidated her lead with a second break on set point. The Kazakh continued her momentum in the second set, quickly pulling away to a 4-0 lead, eventually winning the match 6-2, 6-2.
During the post-match press conference, Elena Rybakina acknowledged the difficulty of playing against Swiatek. However, she expressed her satisfaction with her performance during the match, saying that she played at her "highest level" at certain moments. She also stated that if she maintains this level of play consistently, she feels capable of defeating anyone.
"With Iga, she's tough, really tough opponent, but when I play like this good and everything goes in, because today some moments I played, I would say, on my highest level. So yeah, there is moments where you can feel, okay, I can beat anyone if I always play like this," the Kazakh said.
When asked how she was able to win consecutive matches against a dominant Iga Swiatek in 2023, Elena Rybakina credited her aggressive style of play and strong serve.
"I think just my aggressive style of the game. Big serves. Today I was pushing a lot. I think that just overall some players it's more difficult to play against," she stated.
Elena Rybakina looks to register her first win over Aryna Sabalenka in the Indian Wells final
Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka will face off for the Indian Wells title in a rematch of the 2023 Australian Open final. Sabalenka came out on top that day in a closely contested three-set encounter to win her maiden Grand Slam.
During the post-match press conference, Rybakina acknowledged the challenge of facing Sabalenka, having lost their previous four encounters, all of which were close matches.
"Yeah, as you said, I lost the last four times and it was always like three sets. I think just to play better in these important moments and hold the serve, because I think few times it was just because of one break," the World No. 10 said.
Rybakina identified the need to improve her performance in crucial moments, specifically on serve, and hopes to register her first win against the World No. 2.
"Yeah, it's gonna be not an easy match, and it's gonna be in these clutch moments I just need to play better. Hopefully now it's gonna change the score between us," she added.