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Rybakina defeated Sabalenka to win the WTA Indian Wells title


Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina beat Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (13/11), 6-4 on Sunday to win the WTA title in Indian Wells and avenge her loss to the Belarusian in the Australian Open final.

World number 10 Rybakina followed Kazakhstan’s world number 10, who beat defending champion Iga Switik in the semi-finals, with her first victory over second seed Sabalenka in five career meetings.

While Sabalenka was edging across the baseline in a hard-fought battle, Rybakina’s aggressive pressure caused the serve demons that occupied Sabalenka last year to re-emerge.

Her ten double faults in the opening frame eventually proved insurmountable.

After blocking three break points in the marathon fourth game, Rybakina broke to gain the advantage, but Sabalenka returned the break with a double fault to close out the eighth game.

She gave Rybakina a set point with another double fault in the 12th game, and while the Kazakhstan player couldn’t capitalize, she would finally do so in a tiebreaker.

Unable to convert both set points in the set decider, Sabalenka’s tenth double fault of the set gave Rybakina a sixth set point and she took it.

Sabalenka, who was struggling to calm her feelings, broke love opening the second set and that was all the opening Rybakina needed.

The Moscow-born Kazakh held a pair of break points to extend her lead to 3-1, and with Sabalenka in survival mode, she ripped a backhand at the break line that put her up 5-2.

Sabalenka wasn’t going softly, breaking Rybakina to love and grabbing the serve easily with the wind at her back.

But Rybakina confidently polished it off on her first match point when Sabalenka served a serve into the net.

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