Iga Swiatek is used to playing matches that end with a dominant scoreline but usually, she’s not on the receiving end of a thrashing.
In the semifinals of the 2023 Indian Wells, the world no. 1 met Elena Rybakina, who is one of the very few players that beat her this year. The Kazakh did it at the Australian Open as the two met in the fourth round.
This time, Rybakina and Swiatek battled for a spot in the final, where Aryna Sabalenka awaited after defeating Maria Sakkari earlier on the day. Thanks to her powerful playstyle and very good serve, the reigning Wimbledon champion is one of the very few players on the WTA Tour that match up well with Swiatek and can trouble her on regular basis.
From the first ball, Rybakina was a better player on the court. She was hitting the ball strong and precisely and gave her opponent no room to operate with it. Thanks to that, she got an early break in the first set and led 3-0.
Soon, Swiatek would have a chance to break back, but this time, Rybakina could employ her serve, after which she was victorious 76% of the times in the first set, and save both break points that the Pole had.
Moreover, Swiatek showed that she’s also just a tennis player and a human being, when she couldn’t handle the pressure of facing a set point and hit a double fault, giving her opponent an easy point to close out the first set and win it 6-2.
Rybakina didn’t have any intentions of stopping with a thrashing in the second set. This time, she built a two-break lead even faster and after less than an hour of play, she was up 6-2, 4-0 in the match.
Swiatek gave it all she had and kept fighting for every point as she even had a break point in the fifth game, but she just couldn’t put in a good string of points without unforced errors and in combination with Rybakina’s serve, she just had no chance of breaking her opponent.
However, the Pole finally showed some serious resistance. In the seventh game of the second set, she faced two match points, but she refused to give up and kept fighting to get one of the breaks back.
But eventually, after an hour and 15 minutes, Rybakina won the match 6-2, 6-2 to advance to only her second WTA final of the season, after previously losing to Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open. In Indian Wells, she can take revenge as she’ll meet the very same opponent in the final.
Soon enough, Swiatek may also have a chance for revenge as Poland and Kazakhstan are set to meet in the Billie Jean King Cup, for which both players were nominated to represent their countries. (tennis-infinity.com)