MATCH REPORT | 2023 WTA Finals: Aryna SABALENKA battles past Elena RYBAKINA in a Rain-Delayed Clash

Saturday, 04 November 2023 at 00:09
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Aryna Sabalenka defeated Elena Rybakina 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, securing the second place in the Bacalar Group of the WTA Finals.
In an exciting match marked by constant rain interruptions, the battle for the second spot in the Bacalar Group of the WTA Finals was decided. Prior to this match, Jessica Pegula had already secured the top spot in the group by defeating Maria Sakkari undefeated, earning her a spot in the semifinals.
Both players had recorded victories against Sakkari and suffered losses to Pegula in their previous group stage matches. The winner of this match would claim the second semifinal spot. Sabalenka also carried the responsibility of winning to maintain her world No. 1 ranking, as she faced off against Swiatek, who had performed exceptionally well in the Finals.
In the first set, Sabalenka took control right from the start, capitalizing on Rybakina's service struggles. Both players faced challenges due to strong winds that, at times, made serving accurately a daunting task. Sabalenka managed to secure two service breaks in the first three games, which proved decisive for Rybakina, as she couldn't break her opponent's serve and conceded the set 6-2. Sabalenka had a solid first-serve percentage at 75%, of which she won 78%, while Rybakina had a 59% first-serve percentage, winning 65% of them.
In the second set, Rybakina improved her serving, achieving a 70% first-serve percentage and winning 76% of those points. Sabalenka, on the other hand, experienced a notable drop in her first-serve percentage, down to 58%, with a 40% success rate. Despite her struggles to hold her serve, Sabalenka was the first to secure a break, although her opponent promptly recovered in the following game.
With a score of 4-3 in favor of the world No. 4, another break occurred, and Rybakina had the opportunity to serve for the set. However, the match was suspended due to rain and postponed to the following day. Today, when the match resumed, Sabalenka successfully held her serve and secured the set, forcing a third set.
The thrilling beginning of the third set featured a 24-point game with nine deuces, where Sabalenka managed to hold her serve. With the score at 2-1 in her favor, three consecutive breaks followed, giving the world No. 1 the advantage. Finally, Sabalenka held her serve and clinched the victory with a score of 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
In the semifinals, her most likely opponent will be Iga Swiatek. Although Swiatek doesn't have the first-place guarantee mathematically, even a 0-6, 0-6 defeat to Jabeur could be enough, depending on whether Coco Gauff achieves a similar result against Vondrousova.

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