Elena Rybakina details what went wrong in costly miss versus Aryna Sabalenka

Rybakina had everything in her hands but then she missed a routine forehand which could have given her a match point.

by Dzevad Mesic
Elena Rybakina details what went wrong in costly miss versus Aryna Sabalenka
© Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Elena Rybakina thought she made the correct shot-decision when picking where to go with her forehand in the critical moments of the Aryna Sabalenka match but it was just that she "went too much" on the miss that later turned out to be very costly. 

After dominating Sabalenka in the first set and winning the opener with a 6-1 scoreline, Rybakina also got her a chance to serve out for the match after breaking the second-seeded Belarusian for a 5-4 second-set lead. 

Down 0-30, Rybakina fired two great serves to tie the 10th game to 30/30. Then in the following point, Rybakina had Sabalenka on the ropes and she was around the left side of her own service line when the Belarusian got the ball back in play. The ball looked like handed to Rybakina on a plate but then the Kazakh went for a paralalel on her forehand that went just wide left. After missing what looked like a pretty easy and routine forehand, Rybakina also made an unforced error on her backhand in the next point and Sabalenka managed to get the break back. 

Sabalenka then went on to claim another break in the 12th game and ultimately seal a 1-6 7-5 7-6 (5) comeback win. 

"It was just a regular ball. I think that I choose the correct angle and everything. It's just I went for too much and it went wide," Rybakina said in her press conference about the critical miss at 30/30 when serving for the match. 

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Early in the second set, Rybakina broke Sabalenka in the third game to go up by a set and a break. While Sabalenka managed to get that break back in the eighth game, Rybakina once again went up by a break after breaking the Belarusian in the ninth game. 

Reflecting on what went wrong when attempting to close out the match, Rybakina said she probably should have stepped up even more in those moments because she felt that Sabalenka was becomign more aggressive. 

"I was feeling that she raised the level in the second set, and I also didn't stay maybe aggressive in some moments, maybe playing a bit too passive. I should have maybe stepped in a bit more," Rybakina said.

Rybakina happy with her start to the clay season despite the Sabalenka loss

Before coming to Madrid, Rybakina started her clay season by winning a WTA 500 tournament in Stuttgart. En route to winning Stuttgart, Rybakina impressed as she managed to prevent Iga Swiatek from winning the tournament for a third consecutive year.

After winning four matches in Stuttgart, Rybakina also won her opening four matches in Madrid before just narrowly losing to Sabalenka. 

Heading into next week's Rome Open - where Rybakina is the defending champion - the 24-year-old Kazakh is happy with her game and results and hopes that will continue in the Italian capital.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina © Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

"Without a doubt, the start of the clay court season is very good. Despite the defeat today, I think I played really well. I did everything the right way. Only a couple of points ended up making the difference," Rybakina said.

"Now I am very happy with my level and with how I feel physically on the court. Now it will be important to take a few days off and then try to adjust to the conditions in Rome, because the ball is very different there. 

"Normally I suffer with allergies in Rome. Last year I was lucky because there was a lot of rain, we will see this year."

What did Sabalenka say after coming back to beat Rybakina?

In those moments when Rybakina had a routine forehand for a match point on her serve, Sabalenka was definitely on the brink of losing the match. But with a bit of luck, Sabalenka clinched a break point instead of facing a match point and you know what happened next. 

“Honestly, I don't know how I did it. I was just trying to do my best, trying to fight for every point. I was hoping to have the opportunity to turn the game around, so I'm super happy I got it. I'm very happy because it was a very tough match," Sabalenka said in her press conference.

"I spent the entire first set fighting against my serve, I couldn't gain confidence until I started winning some games more easily. This gave me extra energy to continue fighting and testing my serve, and then go break him and get back into the match. Getting back to normal with my serve gave me the opportunity to fight for the match.”

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

It remains to be seen if the Sabalenka loss will have any mental impact on Rybakina in Rome.

Elena Rybakina Aryna Sabalenka