Elena Rybakina's serve holds off Maria Sakkari at 2023 WTA Finals, setting up semi final cliffhanger chance vs Sabalenka

Elena Rybakina defeated Maria Sakkari 6-0, 6-7(4), 7-6(2) and keeps her chances alive in the WTA Finals.

Maria Sakkari had a forgettable debut at the WTA Finals this year, losing convincingly to world No. 1 Aryna Sabalenka by 6-0, 6-1 in a match where she never looked comfortable, even shedding tears during the changeovers due to frustration with her poor level of play.

Her opponent on this day was Elena Rybakina, who was defeated by Jessica Pegula 7-5, 6-2 in her first match of the tournament. Both players needed to win this match to stay alive in the Bacalar Group, and a loss would mean they could only advance to the round-robin phase if they won their third match.

Sakkari's dreadful performance in her first match seemed like it would repeat itself against Rybakina, as the Greek player seemed disconnected and was completely outplayed by her opponent from the start.

It took only 22 minutes for the 2022 Wimbledon champion to claim the first set with an impeccable display of excellent tennis. Rybakina won 91% of the points on her first serve and 60% on her second, which was far superior to Sakkari's 36% on the first serve and 29% on the second.

The Kazakhstani player was more aggressive from the beginning, taking six consecutive games and winning 74% of the points played. Sakkari was very imprecise with 10 unforced errors, while Rybakina capitalized on the opportunities she had, totaling 8 winners to take the set 6-0.

At the beginning of the second set, it seemed like Sakkari would be easily defeated again as she conceded two break points to her opponent. However, she managed to hit a couple of good serves and secured her first game of the evening.

Sakkari took a breather thanks to the game she won and completely changed her approach in the second set, focusing more on precision in her serves and being less aggressive.

Both players held their serves to reach 6-6 without any breaks, and in the tie-break, Sakkari found her strength, putting her earlier struggles behind her and aiming for a third set.

The third set turned into a battle between the two players, with both showcasing their best form of the match. The first break came in the sixth game in favor of Rybakina, who took a 4-2 lead. However, the Greek player quickly broke back, leveling the score at 4-4.

Both players held their serves, taking the match to a final tie-break, where Rybakina displayed greater aggression with 2 magnificent backhands and composure to claim the exciting match by 6-0, 6-7(4), 7-6(2).

As a result, the first two days for the Bacalar Group have been completed, with Jessica Pegula securing her spot in the first position and playing the decisive match against Maria Sakkari, who is eliminated after two losses.

The second spot to advance will be determined by the match between Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina, deciding who will accompany Pegula to the semifinals.

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