How Elena Rybakina blowing big lead & losing to Aryna Sabalenka impacted Coco Gauff?

Gauff also had something on the line when Rybakina and Sabalenka met in the Madrid semifinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
How Elena Rybakina blowing big lead & losing to Aryna Sabalenka impacted Coco Gauff?
© Getty Images Sport - Alex Grimm

Elena Rybakina failing to close out the match against Aryna Sabalenka in a stunning way also had an impact on Coco Gauff as the American won't be making her top-2 debut on Monday. 

When the Madrid Open started, world No. 2 Sabalenka as the defending champion had 1,000 points to defend while third-ranked Gauff just 45. 

Even after Gauff exited Madrid in the round-of-16, she still had good chances of overtaking Sabalenka at the No. 2 spot and achieving a new career-high ranking as she just needed the Belarusian to not reach the final. 

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

And on Thursday, Gauff was milimeters away from reaching the world No. 2 spot after Rybakina opened a 6-1 5-4 lead and was serving for the match against Sabalenka in the Madrid semifinal. 

But at 30/30 in the 10th game of the second set, Rybakina missed what appeared to be a routine forehand and then she also got broken after making another unforced error in the following game. Rybakina paid the price for failing to serve out for the match as Sabalenka went on to complete a 1-6 7-5 7-6 (5) win.

Sabalenka avoids losing the No. 2 spot to Gauff by beating Rybakina

Now in live rankings, Sabalenka has 7,498 ranking points while Gauff has 7,313. If Sabalenka beats Iga Swiatek in the Madrid final, she will start Monday with 7,848 ranking points. 

But if Sabalenka loses the Madrid final, the gap between her and Gauff will remain very little and the American will still be very close to overtaking the Belarusian at No. 2.

Coco Gauff
Coco Gauff© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

But Sabalenka also has an ace in her sleeve as won't have much points to defend at the upcoming WTA 1000 tournament in Rome as the Belarusian lost in the Rome second round last year. However, Gauff won't have much points to defend in Rome either as she just made the third round at Foro Italico last year. 

In any case, Gauff remains close to Sabalenka and Rome will be her next chance at reaching the world No. 2 spot for the first time in her career.

Elena Rybakina Aryna Sabalenka Coco Gauff