World No. 1 Iga Swiatek beaten by Elena Rybakina in Indian Wells semi-finals
Iga Swiatek will not retain his title at Indian Wells. Not in the legs and overtaken by a very fair Elena Rybakina in what she undertook on Friday evening, the world n°1 was out of the semi-finals of this 2023 edition. tilted on a final score (6-2, 6-2), the kind of lesson she is used to distilling. In the final, Rybakina will meet the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, for a remake of their duel at the Australian Open.
Very quickly, the Polish did not seem like a good evening and showed great excitement in the forehand, her weak point when the opposing player accelerates on it. The trends of these first minutes of play, where she quickly found herself broken (on two faults in the forehand) and led 3-0, were only confirmed over the course of the meeting. We have seen her very often taken in the replacement, she who is usually extremely mobile. And she made mistakes she hadn’t made since the start of the tournament, like this foul on a long smash as she tried to get back together in this first act.
First WTA 1000 final for Rybakina
She concluded this set with a double fault, before completely suffering the game in the second set, broken a second then a first time. Each time on forehands that she did not control. The crowd tried to support her, giving her a shy ovation when she won her first game after trailing 5-0 in the set. She then erased two first match points to take Rybakina’s serve for the first time in stride.
But the ascent stopped there. Quite simply because the tenth in the world was far too solid and constant to be swept away by this little wind of revolt. She knew how to be impeccable throughout the match in her choices and pressed where it hurt, with remarkable ball length. She allowed herself to conclude on the opposing service, taking advantage of an improbable miss from Swiatek then taking her chance in return before moving forward.
Winner of her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon last year, Australian Open finalist earlier this year (where she had by the way eliminated Swiatek), Rybakina will play her first final in the WTA 1000, a category of tournaments where she had never passed the quarters before this 2023 edition of Indian Wells. This final will mark her reunion with Aryna Sabalenka, who had beaten her in Australia. “If I play like today (Friday)I would have all my chances”she said at the microphone on the court.