Wimbledon champ Rybakina reaches Indian Wells semi-finals
Wimbledon champion Yelena Rybakina beat 76th placed Karolina Muchova 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-4 on Thursday to advance to the semi-finals of the WTA and ATP Masters 1000 in Indian Wells.
Rybakina, who was runner-up to Arina Sobolenko at the Australian Open in January, got everything she could from a frequently injured Mukhova, who also reached the quarter-finals in Dubai last month but was forced to pull out due to a stomach injury.
She took advantage as Mukhova’s serving speed dropped in the final set, but she needed three match points to close it, losing two to a pair of errors on the left as Mukhova held the serve in the penultimate game.
Rybakina then trailed 0-30 on her serve, but two hours and 45 minutes later she came back with her sixth ace of the day.
“Today was a very difficult match,” said Rybakina. “In the third, I served much better. I didn’t start very well, I was a little slower than usual.
“I played well in important moments,” added Rybakina, who will then face either world No. 1 and defending champion Iga Svyatek or Romanian No. 83 Sorana Kirstea.
Swiatek, winner of the French and US Opens last year, is vying to become the second woman after Martina Navratilova in 1990 and 1991 to win back-to-back Indian Wells titles.
Rybakina is one of three players who have beaten Swiatek this year, shocking the Polish star in the round of 16 of the Australian Open.
Mukhova took advantage early as Rybakina struggled to launch her big serve, knocking out the Moscow-born Kazakh to take a 3-2 lead in the first set.
Rybakina had chances, but she failed to convert her first five break points against the Czech.
But Mukhova’s unfortunate mistake, which in the 10th game spoiled an easy header on the set point, gave Rybakina a chance. She kept breaking down and holding on to love to take a 6–5 lead, but she also failed to convert a set point.
Muchova held on to force a tie-break, but eventually gave up the set with a whimper, double-faulting Rybakina’s second set point.
The imperturbable Czech spent the second set without a break point. She beat Rybakina on her way to a fast lead 3-0 and beat her again in the final game to force third place.