INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Elena Rybakina fired seven aces in routing top-ranked Iga Swiatek 6-2, 6-2 on Friday to advance to the BNP Paribas Open final.
Rybakina will play second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, who beat Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3, in Sunday’s final in the Southern California desert.
“It’s going to be huge,” said Sabalenka, who won the doubles title in 2019. “This tournament feels like a Grand Slam. I really want to hold this trophy as a singles champion.”
Rybakina needed just 76 minutes to finish off Swiatek, the defending champion. She won 82% of her first serve points. Rybakina also beat the Polish star at the Australian Open in January on her way to finishing runner-up.
Swiatek had won 10 straight matches in the desert until being stopped Friday.
Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, improved to 17-1 this year.
Sabalenka took control against Sakkari, seeded seventh, from the start. She attacked the Greek’s second serve, winning 20 of 26 points off it. Sakkari, runner-up in last year’s final, fell to 3-5 in her career against Sabalenka.
Sakkari reached the semifinals by rallying from a set down three times and going 4-0 in deciding sets.
But Sabalenka was too dominant. She won the final three games, including two services, to take the first set, 6-2.
Sabalenka led 2-0 in the second before Sakkari tied it 2-all. From there, Sabalenka won four of the final five games to close out the match in 1 1/2 hours.
“Just super happy right now,” Sabalenka said on court. “Maria’s such a great player and I knew it was going to be tough.”
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