Miami: Elena Rybakina prevents Maria Sakkari's big comeback, wins thriller to make SF

Rybakina edges out Sakkari to return to the Miami semifinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
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Miami: Elena Rybakina prevents Maria Sakkari's big comeback, wins thriller to make SF
© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello

Elena Rybakina has made back-to-back Miami Open semifinals after beating Maria Sakkari as the 24-year-old Kazakh is now one win away from already reaching her fourth final in 2024. 

In a match that just finished in Miami, No. 4 seed Rybakina overcame ninth-ranked Sakkari 7-5 6-7 (4) 6-4 in two hours and 48 minutes of play.

After winning a tight first set, Rybakina had two match points in the second set but Sakkari managed to save the Kazakh's chances and force a decider after putting up a big effort. 

Just when it seemed that the momentum could easily shift Sakkari's way, Rybakina showed some great mental strength and fortitude to bounce back in the third set and seal a win after previously failing to close out the match in two sets. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs
 

Rybakina, who finished as runner-up to Petra Kvitova in the 2023 Miami final, will play against No. 27 seed Victoria Azarenka for a place in this year's Miami semifinal. 

How Rybakina defeated Sakkari? 

After five games without a single break point, Rybakina claimed the first break of the match in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Down by a break, Sakkari immediately responded, breaking back Rybakina in the seventh game. 

But blowing her first break didn't really impact Rybakina, who kept her focus and clinched a break again in the 12th game - the game in which Sakkari was serving to stay in the first set. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs
 

After losing the first set in a devastating way, Sakkari managed to bounce back at the start of the second set and open a 4-2 lead. But then, the Greek missed out on two consecutive break points to go up by a double break in the seventh game before also getting broken back in the eighth game. 

With Rybakina up by a set and leading 5-4 in the second set, Sakkari faced two consecutive match points on her serve but managed to save them to tie the second set to five games apiece. 

After saving two match points, Sakkari didn't convert a break point in the 11th game as the second set ultimately went into a tie-break, where the two players were tied to four points apiece before the Greek won the next three points to win the set and force a decider.

After failing to close out the match in two sets and missing out on two match points, Rybakina showed some mental strength in the third set as she firmly held on to her serve at the start of the decider before also claiming the first break in the seventh game for a 4-3 lead. 

Leading 5-3, Rybakina missed out on her third and fourth match points on Sakkari's serve but finally sealed a win in the following game after converting her fifth match point on her serve.

Elena Rybakina Maria Sakkari
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