Sabalenka beats Sakkari to reach first Indian Wells final

Australian Open winner Arina Sobolenko beat Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 at Stadium Court on Friday to advance to the final of the WTA and ATP Masters 1000 hard court tournament in Indian Wells.

World No. 2 Sobolenko, who has driven her 2023 WTA record to 17-1, has scored her fifth win in eight games against No. 7 Greek, and awaits the winner of the second semi-final between World No. 1 and defending champion Iga Swiatek and Wimbledon. champion Elena Rybakina.

This is a rematch of an Australian Open fourth round match in which Rybakina stunned first-place finisher Swiatek on her way to a second-place finish.

Sobolenko’s victory ensured that the reigning Grand Slam champions would face off in the final. Swiatek won the French and US Opens last year.

“Sounds great in both cases,” Sobolenko said. “I would love to play both of them.”

She said she was thrilled to have beaten the player who beat her in the WTA Finals group stage last year.

Playing with the utmost confidence, Sobalenko started with a fast serve with two aces and broke Sakkari to take the lead 3-1.

Sakkari immediately bounced back as Sabalenko made a double fault on a break point. But the Belarusian won the next five games, earned a set and took a 2-0 lead in the second.

Sakkari, perhaps trying to do too much in the face of Sobolenko’s powerful ground shots, made three errors on the right to get a triple set point.

She saved two with a game-winning serve and an ace, but hit another right out of court on the third.

Sobolenko skated, knocking Sakkari down again with a brilliant serve with a left hand up the line and leading 2-0 in the second.

But she fought back with a sloppy delivery, distracted for one serve by a sound from the crowd.

Sakkari then held back to level the score, but Sabolenko managed to win three games in a row, deflecting a break point to make it 3-2.

Sabalenka said she may have missed a match in past years, but now she is playing with a new sense of calm.

“I have lost so many matches in the past, as well as a few not-so-smart mistakes,” she said. “I reminded myself that it’s okay to make these mistakes, I’m not a robot. I can miss those punches and that’s probably why I could keep fighting and keep trying.”

– Anything can happen –

Sakkari scored two game points in the sixth game, in which a deuce came up four times.

She failed to convert and Sobalenko converted another game-winning serve to get a third chance for a break of the game, which she took advantage of with a cross right hand.

Sobolenko finished the match with 21 winners to Sakkari’s nine as she denied Sakkari a return to the Indian Wells final.

The match was delayed for more than half an hour due to a malfunction of the audio system at Court Stadium, which affected the microphone of Pierre Bacca’s chair referee and the sound of the Hawk-Eye automatic line call system that was used throughout the tournament.

“For a second I thought, ‘Oh, something’s going wrong today,'” said Sobolenko, who had to wait on the court with her opponent while they searched for a solution.

“But then I remind myself that everything is fine. This can happen. I just need to calm down a bit, relax and wait for them to fix the system.”



Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker