CANCUN, Mexico – No.4 Elena Rybakina keeps Bacalar Group hopes alive after thrilling victory over No.9 Maria Sakkari at the GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun.
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Rybakina’s win puts her in contention for second place in the group, tied with No.1 Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka suffered her first loss of the tournament against No.5 Jessica Pegula. Pegula has already secured her place in the semifinals as the group winner.
The outcome of the final group match between Rybakina and Sabalenka, a rematch of the Australian Open and Indian Wells finals, will determine the second qualifier. Sakkari is eliminated.
This victory marks Rybakina’s seventh Top 10 win of the season, placing her behind only Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff in this category.
Sakkari admitted feeling out of form and lacking confidence after her previous loss to Sabalenka. Her struggles carried into the first set.
“I had a slow start,” said Sakkari. “I was tense and stressed, probably still affected by the previous match.”
Despite the disappointing start, Sakkari showed resilience in the second set, saving multiple break points against Rybakina. The set eventually went to a tiebreak, which Sakkari won to force a deciding third set.
In the third set, Rybakina managed to hold her nerve, remaining steady from the baseline. Sakkari had opportunities to break but couldn’t convert. Rybakina ultimately closed out the match with a strong performance in the deciding tiebreak.
“I’m proud that I was able to overcome my fear on the court,” Sakkari said. “I was only a few points away from winning the match. Today’s performance was promising.”
Rybakina has won their previous two encounters, but Sabalenka claimed victory in their most significant match at the Australian Open. Their upcoming match will determine their fate in the tournament.
“It’s now do or die,” Rybakina stated. “It won’t be easy, but I’ll give it my all.”
Jessica Roberts serves up the latest in the world of tennis. With a love for the racket sport, she reports on tennis matches, player rankings, and Grand Slam events, ensuring readers stay informed about the tennis world.