Tuesday, March 14, 2023 - Aryna Sabalenka plays against Barbora Krejcikova during the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Katelyn Mulcahy/BNP Paribas Open)
And then there were two! On Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, tennis’ version of March Madness wraps up with a blockbuster women’s final between No.2-seeded Aryna Sabalenka and No.10-seeded Elena Rybakina. Get primed on the pair’s fifth meeting, as each bids for their maiden BNP Paribas Open title.
A rematch of a thrilling 2023 Australian Open final is coming to the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday.
Aryna Sabalenka, the No.2 seed, has made it clear that she doesn’t want her maiden Australian Open title to be her crowning achievement. The 24-year-old has adamantly professed her desire to push for the No.1 ranking and win more big titles, and she has backed up those words by playing focused, intense tennis over the last month and a half. Now 17-1 on the season she hopes to claim her maiden title in the California desert – and remain undefeated against Rybakina.
“I think the goal is just to keep playing, keep winning, keep doing myself, and keep focusing on myself,” she said on Friday after knocking off seventh-seeded Maria Sakkari to reach the final.
Sabalenka will bid to become the first WTA player to three titles in 2023 on Sunday, but standing in her way is a lethal force that nearly took her down in this year’s Australian final.
No deja vu here 🔄
2023 Australian Open final
2023 Indian Wells final 🔜 pic.twitter.com/qpzsE0SpbZ
— wta (@WTA) March 18, 2023
It wasn’t meant to be for rising Rybakina, who has now lost all four battles she has played against Sabalenka in a deciding set, but she is in the rudest of form here at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and riding high on confidence as a result.
“There are moments where you can feel, ‘Okay, I can beat anyone if I always play like this,'” she said on Friday after dismantling Iga Swiatek, 6-2, 6-2 to reach her maiden final in the California desert.
Expect a battle of behemoth ball-striking, ferocious first-serves and all-out attack in Stadium 1 on Sunday afternoon.
Sabalenka fired 17 aces against Rybakina in the final in Melbourne as she rallied from a set down to capture the title.
But the contest was nip-and-tuck and could have gone either way.
Rybakina knows that if she plays the big points bigger on Sunday, she may just come away with the title.
“I lost the last four times and it was always like three sets,” Rybakina said on Friday. “I think just to play better in these important moments and hold the serve, because I think few times it was just because of one break.
“It’s gonna be not an easy match, and it’s gonna be in these clutch moments I just need to play better. Hopefully now it’s gonna change the score between us.”