Elena Rybakina stuns world No.1 Iga Swiatek to reach Indian Wells final
Elena Rybakina defeated world No. 1 Iga Świątek in straight sets on Friday to reach the Indian Wells final and continue her electric run of form this season.
Świątek had no answer to the powerful groundstrokes unleashed by the Wimbledon champion as the Pole was overwhelmed 6-2 6-2 in an hour and 16 minutes.
With this victory, Rybakina became the first player to win multiple matches against a reigning world No.1 since 2019, after she defeated the Świątek in the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“With Iga, she’s tough, really tough opponent, but when I play this good and everything goes in – because today some moments I played, I would say, on my highest level – [these are] moments where you can feel, okay, I can beat anyone if I always play like this,” said Rybakina after her win.
“But it’s the goal, you never feel amazing and perfect every match. I think today it was just really good from me.”
The world No. 10 was dominant from the start, breaking Świątek at the first opportunity and winning the first set in just 36 minutes.
Rybakina then raced to a 5-0 lead in the second before Świątek held and broke back to stem the tide somewhat, but the Kazakh held on for victory, becoming the first player from her country to reach a singles final in tournament history. Rybakina was born in Russia but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018
“If you dropped onto the planet tonight and heard #1 is playing, then it’s Rybakina,” former professional tennis player Pam Shriver tweeted.
Świątek revealed afterwards that she was managing a rib injury and “not feeling 100% physically,” although she still plans to play at the Miami Open next week.
“Honestly, I haven’t played with a lot of injuries,” she added. “It’s a new situation for me, for sure. Last time I played with an injury, like the only tournament I can remember is like Roland Garros 2019. So I was pretty young.
“Now it’s a totally different level. So I feel like going on that matches you have to be 100% fit.”
Rybakina will now face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka for the Indian Wells title in a repeat of this year’s Australian Open final.