Miami | Rybakina edges Azarenka to meet Collins in the final

Elena Rybakina made it into the Miami Open final for the second year running when she outlasted Victoria Azarenka, 6-4 0-6 7-6(2) on Thursday, and she next  will meet unseeded Danielle Collins, who brought an end to Ekaterina Alexandrova’s run with a 6-3 6-2 win in the semi-finals.

There was a pause, where I stayed on the court and I think I should have maybe left [for] a bit because it was really humid and tough conditions, the energy just went down and Vika came back very aggressively [in the second set]. After three games, when I lost so easily, it was very difficult to regroup, so I knew there would be a third set, and I was just trying to prepare for it. I switched off the mind a bit for the tie-break and I just went for it. Elena Rybakina

Rybakina, the 4th seed from Kazakhstan, was the highest seed remaining in the women’s draw, and, against Azarenka, the No 27 seed from Belarus, she won nearly 82% of her first-serve points, but converted only 2 of her 11 break-point chances on her way to securing the win after 2 hours and 33 minutes of play

“It was such a tough battle,” Rybakina, who was born in Moscow, said in her on-court interview after reaching her 4th final of the year. “I didn’t serve that well and also Vika, from the second set, she was hitting the serve very well.

“It was difficult, but I knew was going to fight until the end, and actually that’s what I did.”

Rybakina squandered her first 5 break-point chances, as did Azarenka, who continued to press in her return games to generate at least one break chance in 2 games, but could not break through.

The Kazakh eventually managed to grab a 4-3 lead, and then used her astonishing power to close out the 51-minute set to love.


A change of outfit and mindset helped Elena Rybakina overcome a stern challenge from Victoria Azarenka in their semi-final encounter

© Al Bello/Getty Images

The two-time Australian Open champion struck back in the second, refusing to go quietly, and with Rybakina’s physical intensity wavering, Azarenka lost just 2 points on her serve, one of which was a double-fault.

She conjured up a flawless display in which she limited Rybakina to just 5 points, and broke her serve 3 times to force the decider.

Rybakina, after a change of outfits, opened the third with renewed purpose, now moving better, and broke at her 5th attempt in the 5th game to go into a 3-2 lead, when Azarenka sent a backhand into the net.

The World No 4 failed to serve out the match at her first chance, though, and Azarenka got a break back level at 5-5, chasing down a drop-shot before Rybakina sent a backhand volley into the net.

Rybakina, now serving to stay in the match, held to love to force the deciding tiebreak in which she won the first 3 points before closing out the win.

“There was a pause, where I stayed on the court and I think I should have maybe left [for] a bit because it was really humid and tough conditions, the energy just went down and Vika came back very aggressively [in the second set],” she said.

“After three games, when I lost so easily, it was very difficult to regroup, so I knew there would be a third set, and I was just trying to prepare for it,” Rybakina added. “I switched off the mind a bit for the tie-break and I just went for it,” she said.


Danielle Collins dominated Ekaterina Alexandrova and won in straight sets to reach the final in Miami for a second time

© Al Bello/Getty Images

The title winner this year in Brisbane, Abu Dhabi and Doha, Rybakina will next face unseeded Danielle Collins, who made it into the championship match with an emphatic straight sets win over the Russian 14th seed, Ekaterina Alexandrova.

It had been 6 years since the American last made it into the semi-finals, quipping: “I definitely have a better outfit!!

“Back then, I was still ballin’ on a budget. The outfit game, this tournament, I really like it. This outfit is my favourite, so I think that’s the biggest difference that I know.

“I played really great tennis that year too, but I was relatively new on tour and still learning lots of new things. I’m still learning now, of course, but I have more experience under my belt.

“We’re playing at a different facility, different vibe, different energy here, so I love that… I’m just getting older!”

In 2018, Collins, a 2-time NCAA singles champion and ranked 93 at the time, made Miami Open history as the first qualifier to reach the Last 4 in the 3-decade history of the tournament, and now the 30-year old is playing her final season as a touring tennis pro.

Since losing her first set of the tournament to her compatriot Bernarda Pera, Collins has won 10 straight sets to return to the Last 4, and has not lost more than 4 games in any of those sets.


Danielle Collins stopped Ekaterina Alexandrova's impressive run in the Miami Open on Thursday at the Hard Rock Stadium

© Al Bello/Getty Images

Collins booked her first ever spot in a WTA 1000 final in Miami on Thursday with a dominant win over Alexandrova, who had been on a tear herself, upsetting World No 1 Iga Swiatek in the 4th-round before downing 5th-seed Jessica Pegula of the United States on her way to the semi-final.

The American looked relaxed and in control as she took full charge of the contest after Alexandrova broke early in the first set, but Collins swiftly got the back on serve before breaking again to go 4-2 up and take the set.

Collins then broke on the Russian’s first service game in the second, and ran away with the set to complete a 74 minute victory.

“It’s even more special, coming in my home state,” said Collins, who hails from St Petersburg near Tampa “I’ve had a couple of good years here, but this is definitely the most memorable.

“I’ve followed all of her matches this tournament, it was fun watching her because we have a very similar game style. It is tricky when it is like that.

“That forced me to concentrate harder, react faster and really forced me to play up at my highest level,” she said.

24-year-old Rybakina, contesting the Miami final for the second straight year after losing to Czech Petra Kvitova in 2023, is the strong favourite against Collins in the absence of any of the Top 3 in the world.

The pair have met 4 times before, and Rybakina leads the head-to-head record 3-1.



Previous

Next

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com