Swiatek faces Rybakina rematch; Sabalenka takes on Sakkari

It’s semifinal action with a historically strong lineup on Day 10 of the BNP Paribas Open. For the first time in the history of the tournament, the last four features three different reigning Slam champions — Iga Swiatek, the Roland Garros and US Open title holder; Elena Rybakina, the Wimbledon champion; and freshly crowned Australian Open titlist Aryna Sabalenka. Joining them is last year’s runner-up Maria Sakkari.

The last time a WTA 1000 semifinal lineup included three reigning Slam champions was at Madrid 2015, where Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova all made the final four.

Either Swiatek or Sakkari could become the first player to reach consecutive Indian Wells finals since Sharapova in 2013. If both win, it will be the first time in the history of the tournament that the final has been contested by the same players in back-to-back years.

If Sabalenka defeats Sakkari and plays the final against either Swiatek or Rybakina, the tournament will be the first to feature two clashes of reigning Slam champions since Beijing 2019, when Naomi Osaka defeated Bianca Andreescu in the quarterfinals and Ashleigh Barty in the final.

More from Indian Wells: Scores | Order of play | The best of Week 1 | Sakkari ‘surviving and finding ways’ | Rybakina defeats Muchova | Swiatek sails into semifinals

[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) vs. [10] Elena Rybakina (KAZ)

Head-to-head: 1-1 (Rybakina leads 1-0 on outdoor hard courts)

Iga Swiatek is still the dominant World No.1. Just last month, she set an Open Era record for fewest games dropped en route to a tournament win (five in Doha); she has not dropped a set yet in Indian Wells as she bids to defend her title. But a handful of players have found cracks in the Pole’s aura of invincibility over the past few months, and Elena Rybakina is one of them.

Rybakina’s 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Swiatek in the Australian Open fourth round was a statement that this matchup could be a key generational rivalry in the future. A rematch just two months later is an opportunity for Swiatek to respond — particularly, to show that she’s found some answers to the Kazakh’s booming serve, which has tallied 140 aces this year already.

The last time two reigning Slam champions faced each other multiple times within three months was in 2017: Jelena Ostapenko defeated Garbiñe Muguruza in the Wuhan quarterfinals, but Muguruza avenged that result in the WTA Finals Singapore round robin.

Swiatek was cagy when asked about playing Rybakina again. She had watched her quarterfinal win over Karolina Muchova, but said:

“I didn’t really watch a lot of what Elena did. I was more focused on what Karolina did, because I feel like she can play great tennis but because of her injuries she wasn’t able to do that, and it’s great to see her performing that well.

“Elena, I know she can play great tennis, I felt that on my racquet. I don’t need any proof. I’ll just be ready for tomorrow, and that’s…

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Read More: Swiatek faces Rybakina rematch; Sabalenka takes on Sakkari 2023-03-17 10:10:27

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