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Sabalenka Storms Past Sakkari Into Maiden BNP Paribas Open Final
3 Min Read · March 17, 2023

Big game, big confidence, and another big result.

Aryna Sabalenka, this year’s Australian Open champion, continued her winning ways on Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as she notched an eye-catching 6-2, 6-3 decision over 2022 runner-up Maria Sakkari to set a final clash with either top-seeded Iga Swiatek or Elena Rybakina on Sunday.


“Just super happy right now,” Sabalenka told the crowd. “It was a tough match, Maria’s such a great player and I knew it was going to be tough.”

Sabalenka had lost her two previous meetings to the seventh-seeded Greek, but she took control of the match from the get go, attacking Sakkari’s second serve and firing impressive winners off of both wings to improve to 5-3 overall against the 27-year-old Athenian.

Sakkari made to the semifinals with true grit, rallying from a set down three times and going 4-0 in deciding sets, and she showed her character again against Sabalenka after a slow start in the first set, breaking back in the fifth game to get back on serve temporarily (at 2-3).

But the pushback served as a cue for lethal Sabalenka to ratchet her game back up – she reeled off the next three games, thanks to two more breaks of serve, to take the set 6-2.

The second set followed a similar cadence, with Sabalenka opening a 2-0 lead before Sakkari took two games on the trot to level up.

More self-assured in the pressure moments, Sabalenka ramped up her first-strike tennis to steam through four of the final five games as she finished off her victory in one hour and 24 minutes.

Sabalenka improves to 17-1 on the season and she will bid for her 13th career title on Sunday. The 24-year-old has already won hardware at the BNP Paribas Open, claiming the doubles title with Elise Mertens in 2019. But it’s singles glory that she craves this weekend.

“It’s going to be huge,” Sabalenka said. “This tournament feels like a Grand Slam… I really want to hold this trophy as a singles champion.”


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