Elena Rybakina avenges her AO loss to Aryna Sabalenka to win Indian Wells

The 23-year-old ousted both the top two seeds at the BNP Paribas Open

by Abbey Johnson
Elena Rybakina avenges her AO loss to Aryna Sabalenka to win Indian Wells

Elena Rybakina’s the 2023 BNP Paribas Open women’s singles champion. The Kazakh won the title in Indian Wells after beating world no. 2 and second seed, Aryna Sabalenka in the final, 7-6(11), 6-4 after over two hours of play.

Sabalenka’s serve let her down massively in the match, especially in the first set. She hit 10 double faults – all of which came in the opener – and was able to win only 33% of her second-serve points. Rybakina had seven aces and just two double faults across the proceedings.

The 10th seed did win fewer percentage of first-serve points as compared to Sabalenka – 64% to the latter’s 68%. But she did win 52% of her second-serve points. In the first set, Sabalenka was the one who broke first but handed the break right back.

Later on, Rybakina had five set points to take the set, four of which came in the tie-break but wasn’t able to convert any of these. She did do well to thwart Sabalenka from converting either of the two set points that came the Australian Open winner’s way.

Finally, Rybakina converted on her sixth set point on the back of Sabalenka’s unforced error. The second set swung Rybakina’s way from the get go although Sabalenka did her best to bring it around, reducing her opponent’s 5-2 lead to 5-4.

However, Rybakina didn’t lose momentum and served out the match on the first match point she had. Rybakina finished the match with 93 points, six more than Sabalenka’s 87.

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After her victory, the 23-year-old said, “We both had chances [in the first set], but in the end, it went my way.

So, I think it was important this first set, and then it was a bit easier to start the second with an early break. This tiebreak was really epic, I would say, with all these double faults and nerves. So, in the end, it was just focusing on every point and try to fight till the end”.

The Indian Wells title’s the first such WTA title Elena Rybakina’s won in her career. Following this win, she also reached a new career high of no. 7 in the world on 20th March, Monday, when the WTA rankings were updated.

Meanwhile, for Aryna Sabalenka this was her second defeat for the year. Earlier, she’d lost in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Open to the eventual titlist, Barbora Krejcikova. This was also the first time Rybakina was able to get the better of Sabalenka in the five career matches they’ve played so far. Photo Credit: Australian Open Twitter

Elena Rybakina Aryna Sabalenka Indian Wells