Elena Rybakina avenges Australian Open final loss to beat Aryna Sabalenka and claim Indian Wells title

Elena Rybakina claimed her first career win over Aryna Sabalenka on one of the biggest stages as a 7-6(11) 6-4 win secured her the Indian Wells title.

Sabalenka stepped on the court with a perfect four-from-four record against Rybakina, including victory in the Australian Open final earlier this year.

The world No. 2 has been strong in all departments this season, but she threw in an awful display on serve and it enabled Rybakina to claim the win.

“It was an incredible two weeks here,” Rybakina said. “It is an amazing tournament and I want to thank everyone who makes this tournament possible.

“Hopefully I can come back and repeat next year this result.”

Praising her opponent, Rybakina said: “I want to congratulate Aryna for the great two weeks, her great results this year and before, you have done amazing.

“It is the first time it went my way and hopefully we play many more finals.

“It is always a pleasure to play against you and the battles we have.”

It was a tense start, with both coming under pressure on serve.

Sabalenka was the first to break, with the Belarusian fortunate to see a mishit forehand loop over her opponent and drop in.

She consolidated the break with a strong hold, before her issues kicked in on serve.

Rybakina went on the attack and broke back in the eighth game, with Sabalenka coughing up a double fault on break point.

Sabalenka fended off a set point in the 12th game when Rybakina threw a backhand over the baseline.

The first point of the breaker was one of the best of the week, with both players mixing slice and topspin and Sabalenka ripping a glorious backhand down the line for a winner as her opponent closed in on the net.

Both simply refused to bend as they traded blow after blow, but on the 23rd point of the breaker Sabalenka sent down a double fault – her 10th of the set – and Rybakina wrapped up the set one point later in one hour and 18 minutes.

Rybakina broke to love at the start of the second set, seizing on a weak second serve on break point to crunch a backhand winner.

Sabalenka’s issues on serve sapped her belief and emboldened her opponent who powered away in the second set to close out the win in two hours and three minutes.

The victory followed up Rybakina’s win over Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals, meaning the Kazakhstan star had toppled the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the same tournament. Her reward is a prize of $1,262,220 and the knowledge of being able to wake up on Monday morning as the No. 7 player in the world.

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