Miami: Elena Rybakina returns to final after very impressive bounce back in semifinal

Rybakina edged out Victoria Azarenka to reach back-to-back Miami Open finals.

by Dzevad Mesic
Miami: Elena Rybakina returns to final after very impressive bounce back in semifinal
© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello

Elena Rybakina has made back-to-back Miami Open finals after surviving a thriller against two-time Grand Slam champion Victoria Azarenka. 

Rybakina, ranked at No. 4 in the world, outlasted former world No. 1 Azarenka 6-4 0-6 7-6 (2) in a Miami semifinal that lasted three hours and 33 minutes. After Azarenka bageled Rybakina in the second set, the whole momentum was on the Belarusian's side but the 24-year-old Kazakh showed some impressive mental strength and fortitude to bounce back and get the job done in three sets. 

By beating Azarenka, 24-year-old Rybakina ensured a return to the Miami final. When Rybakina plays her Miami final on Saturday, she will try to avoid another loss in the final stage in Miami - last year, the Kazakh was beaten by Petra Kvitova in the tournament's final. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Megan Briggs

Later tonight, Rybakina will learn her Miami final opponent after home favorite Danielle Collins and No. 14 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova finish the remaining semifinal. 

How Rybakina beat Azarenka?

In the very first game of the match, Rybakina missed out on a great chance to go up by an early break as she clinched four break points but didn't convert any of them. Five games later, Azarenka had her first break points but also didn't realize it as the Belarusian missed out on two consecutive break points. 

After both players failed to realize their first break point, Rybakina finally realized her sixth break point in the seventh game to go 4-3 up. Shortly after getting broken, Azarenka had a chance to instantly get the break back but Rybakina saved a break point in the eighth game to go 5-3 up before serving out for the first set in the 10th game. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Al Bello

After not converting any of her three break points in the first set, Azarenka was clinical in her second-set break-point chances as the former world No. 1 converted three-of-three of her break opportunities and didn't allow Rybakina a single break point to bagel the Kazakh and force a decider.

At the start of the third set, Rybakina bounced back as she held to her couple of opening service games before breaking Azarenka in the fifth game. With Rybakina leading 5-4 and serving for the match, Azarenka managed to get the break back and ultimately force a decider.

But Rybakina wasn't fazed by failing to close out the match earlier as the Kazakh opened a comfortable 6-1 lead in the tie-break before converting her second match point to seal a Miami final ticket.

Elena Rybakina Victoria Azarenka Miami Open