Elena Rybakina beat world No. 1 Iga Świątek in straight sets on Friday to reach the Indian Wells final and continue her electric run of form this season.
Świątek had no response to the powerful groundstrokes unleashed by the Wimbledon champion as the Pole was overwhelmed 6-2 6-2 in an hour and 16 minutes.
With the win, Rybakina became the first player to win multiple matches against a reigning world No. 1 since 2019, having beaten Świątek in the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“With Iga he’s a tough opponent, really tough, but when I’m playing this well and everything is going – because today at times I played, I would say, at my highest level. – [these are] times when you can feel, okay, I can beat anybody if I always play like this,” Rybakina said after her win.
“But that’s the point, you never feel amazing and perfect every game. I think today was really good of me.
The world number 10 dominated from the start, breaking Świątek at the first opportunity and winning the first set in just 36 minutes.
Rybakina then took a 5-0 lead in the second before Świątek resisted and pulled back to stem the tide somewhat, but the Kazakh held on for victory, becoming the first player from her country to reach a final in single in the history of the tournament. Rybakina was born in Russia but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018
“If you stumbled across the planet tonight and heard number 1 play then it’s Rybakina,” tweeted former pro tennis player Pam Shriver.
Świątek later revealed that she was dealing with a rib injury and “not feeling 100% physically”, although she still plans to play the Miami Open next week.
“Honestly, I haven’t played with many injuries,” she added. “It’s a new situation for me, that’s for sure. The last time I played with an injury, the only tournament I remember is like Roland Garros 2019. So I was quite young.
“Now it’s a totally different level. So I want to continue these matches, you have to be 100% fit.
Rybakina will now face Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka for the Indian Wells title in a repeat of this year’s Australian Open final.