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Elena Rybakina routs Iga Swiatek for berth in Indian Wells final

Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan smiles to fans after defeating Iga Swiatek of Poland in their semifinal match at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif., Friday, March 17, 2023.
Credit: Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK

Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina flattened top-seeded Iga Swiatek in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday in Indian Wells, Calif.

Rybakina, the 10th seed, won 6-2, 6-2 in 76 minutes and will take on the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the final on Sunday. Sabalenka, of Belarus, also won her semifinal easily, disposing of Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 in 83 minutes.

Rybakina won 82.4 percent of her first-serve points to only 42.9 percent for Swiatek, the Pole who is top-ranked in the world.

“I would say I didn’t expect that I was going to play that good today. Yesterday was a really tough match,” Rybakina said afterward, referring to her three-set win over Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.

“I had nothing to lose. I just wanted to come and enjoy, and it really went my way. I played really one of the best matches this year. I was really pleased with the game, and hopefully I’m going to play like this on Sunday.”

Rybakina, who has won three singles titles, including Wimbledon last year, took over the match early, taking a 3-0 lead in the first set. After surviving two break points to grb a 4-1 lead, she eventually finished the set with another break of Swiatek.

Sabalenka had fallen twice in a row to Sakkari, the seventh seed, before rolling into her third final of the season. She is 17-1 in 2023.

Sabalenka was stronger on her second serve, winning 12 of 24 points to just 6 of 26 for Sakkari.

“I’m just super happy with another final and super happy with the win against Maria. She’s such a great fighter, and it’s always tough matches against her,” said Sabalenka, who has 12 singles titles in her career, including this year’s Australian Open.

“I feel really good on court right now, but I also have understanding that it’s not going to be the same all the time. So that’s why I keep working hard, make sure in those days when things are not working my way, I still will be able to compete and to get these wins.”

Sabalenka led the first set only 3-2 after Sakkari broke her serve, but Sabalenka broke right back and won three straight games. The second set was similar, with Sabalenka again pulling away from a 3-2 lead to go up 5-2.

–Field Level Media