Elena Rybakina wins in Indian Wells for first title since Wimbledon success
Elena Rybakina gained revenge for her Australian Open final defeat in January as she sunk world number two Aryna Sabalenka to win the BNP Paribas Masters in Indian Wells.
The Kazakh player held her nerve to clinch a 78-minute first set before wrapping up a 7-6 (11) 6-4 win and her first title since her surprise Wimbledon triumph last summer.
It also helped Rybakina to erase the memory of her defeat to the Belarussian in Melbourne, having taken the first set against her big-serving opponent.
Indian Wells has a 🆕 CHAMPION 🏆
What a week in #TennisParadise for Elena Rybakina! pic.twitter.com/zTZYiAHNPr
— wta (@WTA) March 19, 2023
Sabalenka had stormed into the final and looked set to take control when she claimed the first break for 3-2, but her sporadic serving problems returned and a double-fault handed her opponent the break straight back.
As Sabalenka continued to struggle on serve, Rybakina, who beat world number one Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals, took control in a 17-minute tie-break and eventually secured the advantage on her sixth set point.
Rybakina built on her advantage by breaking Sabalenka to love in the first game of the second set, then broke again to move to the cusp of victory at 5-2.
Sabalenka suggested one last twist by denying Rybakina in her first opportunity to serve for the match, but the Kazakh made no mistake second time around to wrap up the second biggest win of her career.