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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday March 17, 2023

Elena Rybakina

The Kazakh notched her second consecutive straight sets victory over Iga Swiatek to reach the Indian Wells final.

Photo Source: Getty

Elena Rybakina is making herself at home in the friendly confines of Stadium 1 at the BNP Paribas Open.

And everyone she faces is feeling out of sorts.

Tennis Express

The 2022 Wimbledon champion continued her climb up the WTA rankings on Friday night, notching a commanding victory over World No.1 Iga Swiatek, 6-2, 6-2, to set a final clash with Aryna Sabalenka, the No.2 seed.

It was a jaw-dropping display of pitch-perfect power tennis from start to finish for the No.10 seed. She served brilliantly, and stroked the ball with dizzying pace from the backcourt, keeping Swiatek on the back foot for all of the 76-minute contest.

Rybakina told reporters that it was one of her best performances of the season, and says that when she plays at that level, she knows she can beat anyone. Anyone who watched tonight’s imperious performance would find it difficult to disagree with her.

“With Iga, she's tough, really tough opponent,” Rybakina said in her post-match press conference, but when I play this good and everything goes in, because today some moments I played, I would say, on my highest level… there are moments where you can feel, okay, ‘I can beat anyone if I always play like this.’”

Remarkably, she won 82.4 percent of her first-serve points (28 of 34) while Swiatek won only 12 of 28 (42.4 percent).

In total the Pole won just 18 of 43 points on serve and lost each of the five break points she faced.

Rybakina has now won four consecutive sets in big matches against Swiatek, defeating her 6-4 6-4 in the round of 16 at the Australian Open en route to the final, where she lost to Sabalenka for the fourth time in four career meetings against the Belarusian.

That may sound like a lopsided head-to-head, but all four of those contests went to a deciding set, and Rybakina nearly got over the line against Sabalenka in this year’s Australian Open final.

“I lost the last four times and it was always like three sets,” Rybakina said. “I think just to play better in these important moments and hold the serve, because I think few times it was just because of one break.

“It's gonna be not an easy match, and it's gonna be in these clutch moments I just need to play better. Hopefully now it's gonna change the score between us.”

Swiatek Bothered by Rib Injury

Swiatek saw her 10-match BNP Paribas Open winning streak end on Friday, but she has bigger issues to deal with. In her post-match press conference she told reporters that she has been dealing with a rib injury, and said that it was the first time she played with an injury for nearly four years, since Roland-Garros in 2019.

“In terms of the rib, you know, we'll see, because I still have to run some tests and see what's going on,” she said. “I don't know yet.”

She added: “Honestly, I haven't played with a lot of injuries. It's a new situation for me, for sure. Last time I played with an injury… the only tournament I can remember is like Roland Garros 2019. So I was pretty young.

“For sure, you know, now it's a totally different level. So I feel like going on that matches you have to be 100 percent fit.”


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