Rybakina into Miami Final Despite Azarenka Match Meltdown

Photo of Rybakina into Miami Final.

The fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina persevered through a challenging second set to overcome Victoria Azarenka from Belarus with a score of 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (2) on Thursday, securing her spot in the Miami Open final.

Rybakina, who stands as the highest-ranked seed remaining in the women’s draw, achieved success by winning nearly 82% of her first-serve points. However, she faced difficulty in converting only two out of 11 break-point opportunities during the intense two-hour and 33-minute match.

Reflecting on the match during her on-court interview, Rybakina, originally from Moscow but representing Kazakhstan, described it as a formidable battle. Despite facing challenges with her serve and Azarenka’s strong performance, particularly in the second set, she remained determined to fight until the end, ultimately securing her fourth final appearance of the year.

In the beginning set, Rybakina failed to capitalize on her initial five break-point opportunities before eventually figuring out Azarenka’s serve and taking a 4-3 lead. Utilizing her impressive power, she concluded the 51-minute set with a hold to love. However, Azarenka put up a strong resistance, delivering an exceptional performance in the second set.

She limited Rybakina to only five points and broke her serve three times, leading to a deciding set. After changing her attire, Rybakina demonstrated improved mobility in the third set. She managed to break Azarenka’s serve in the fifth game after several attempts, securing a 3-2 lead when Azarenka made a backhand error into the net.

Nevertheless, Rybakina stumbled when serving for the match for the first time, allowing Azarenka to break back and equalize the score at 5-5 after retrieving a drop shot and witnessing Rybakina commit a backhand volley error into the net.

Rybakina, under pressure to maintain her position in the match, served flawlessly to force a tiebreak, where she asserted dominance by claiming the first three points and ultimately securing the victory. With titles already under her belt this year in Brisbane, Abu Dhabi, and Doha, Rybakina will now await the outcome of the match between American Danielle Collins and Russian 14th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova for her next opponent.

In the meantime, German fourth seed Alexander Zverev battled through difficult conditions to defeat Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan 6-3, 7-5, securing a spot in the men’s semi-finals. Zverev aggressively targeted Marozsan’s serve, capitalizing on three out of seven break-point opportunities, saving both break points against him, and impressively winning 80% of his first serve points to advance to the semi-finals in Miami without dropping a set.

Despite facing windy conditions, Zverev encountered a tough challenge from Marozsan, who is making his Miami debut and caused upsets against top-10 players Holger Rune and Alex de Minaur on his way to the quarter-finals.

Reflecting on Marozsan’s performance, Zverev stated in his on-court interview, “If he maintains that level of play, he’ll rise swiftly in the rankings and potentially become one of those top 10 players himself.” “I think most top players usually believe they can dictate and sway the match to their advantage. However, that’s not the scenario when playing against him. This is why he has such a remarkable top-10 track record and is considered an outstanding player.”

Zverev’s triumph, sealed with a break following an impressive backhand down the line, marks his return to the Miami Open semi-finals, marking his first appearance since finishing as the runner-up in 2018. In the next round, Zverev will face either Spanish top seed Carlos Alcaraz or Bulgarian 11th seed Grigor Dimitrov.


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