Madrid: Aryna Sabalenka pulls off miraculous SF comeback versus Elena Rybakina

Sabalenka was literally inches away from losing to Rybakina but she managed to find a way to completely overturn the situation.

by Dzevad Mesic
Madrid: Aryna Sabalenka pulls off miraculous SF comeback versus Elena Rybakina
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Aryna Sabalenka created an absolutely stunning comeback to beat Elena Rybakina and set up a Madrid final against Iga Swiatek.

Sabalenka, the defending Madrid champion, was down by a set and a break as Rybakina was two points away from winning the match before the Belarusian stormed back to win 1-6 7-5 7-6 (5) in the Madrid semifinal. 

At 6-1 5-4, the 10th game pf the second set was tied to 30 points apiece when Rybakina - who was playing exceptional up to that point - missed an easy shot that could have given her a match point. Facing a break point, Rybakina went for a backhand winner but she missed the shot and Sabalenka managed to get the break back.

That's when Sabalenka's comeback started, who will now battle against world No. 1 Swiatek in a rematch of the 2023 Madrid final. Last year, Sabalenka defeated Swiatek 6-3 3-6 6-3 and their Madrid final encounter was later voted as the WTA Match of the Year.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

How Sabalenka came back to beat Rybakina?

Right out of the gate, Rybakina came out playing very aggressively and looking determined to control everything on the court. While Rybakina was playing very confident and looking outstanding on the court, Sabalenka was struggling to find her game as the Kazakh easily won the opener after claiming back-to-back breaks in the fourth and sixth games. 

After needing just 24 minutes to win the first set, Rybakina also claimed an early break in the second set after breaking Sabalenka in the third game. Down by a set and a break, Sabalenka earned two break points in the fourth game but didn't convert. 

But Sabalenka eventually managed to get the break back after collecting her first break of the match in the eighth game to tie the second set to four games apiece. After losing her second-set break, Rybakina impressively responded as she earned three consecutive break points in the ninth game and converted her third break point to go 5-4 up and give herself a chance to serve out for the match.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

But just when it seemed that Sabalenka was done, Rybakina missed an easy shot at 30-30 and went on to suffer breaks in the 10th and 12th games - and ultimately drop the second set. 

In the third set, both players firmly held on to their serves as the only break points were seen in the 11th game and Sabalenka saved them, before the decider went into a tie-break - where the Belarusian took a 6-3 lead before converting her third match point to complete her epic comeback. 

Aryna Sabalenka Elena Rybakina