WTA Championship preview: What you need to know ahead of Sunday’s Clash of the Titans

And then there were two! On Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open, the tennis version of March Madness will culminate in a blockbuster women’s final between No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No. 10 seed Elena Rybakina. Get ready for the duo’s fifth meeting, as each bet on their first title at the BNP Paribas Open.

(10) Elena Rybakina against. (2) Arina Sabalenka Sabalenka leads, 4-0

  • Key stat: The pair’s four matches went to a third-set decider.
  • Sabalenka record in 2023 | career record at Indian Wells: 17-1 | 8-3
  • Rybakina record in 2023 | career record at Indian Wells: 15-4 | 8-2

A rematch of a thrilling Australian Open 2023 final will take place at 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 glory. The 24-year-old has been adamant about her desire to push for the No.1 ranking and win more headlines, and she’s backed up those words by playing focused and intense tennis over the past month and a half. Now 17-1 this season, she hopes to claim her first title in the California desert – and remain undefeated against Rybakina.

“I think the goal is just to keep playing, to win, to push myself and to focus on myself,” she said on Friday after knocking out seventh seed Maria Sakkari to reach the final. final.

Sabalenka will be looking to become the first WTA player to win three titles in 2023 on Sunday, but standing in her way is a lethal force that nearly brought her down in this year’s Australian final.

It wasn’t meant to be for the rise of Rybakina, who has now lost all four battles she has had against Sabalenka in a deciding set, but she is in the roughest form here at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and rides on trust as a result.

“There are times when you can feel, ‘Okay, I can beat anybody if I always play like this,'” she said on Friday after dismantling Iga Swiatek, 6-2, 6-2 to reach his first final in the California desert. .

Expect a battle of giant balls, ferocious first serves and all-out attacks in Stadium 1 on Sunday afternoon.

Sabalenka fired 17 aces against Rybakina in the Melbourne final as she rallied after one set to claim the title.

Monday, March 6, 2023 – Aryna Sabalenka practices at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, CA. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)

But the contest was nip-and-tuck and could have gone either way.

Rybakina knows that if she plays the bigger big points on Sunday, she might just win 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 those important moments and hold the serve, because I think a few times it was just because of a break.

“It won’t be an easy game, and it will be in those clutch moments that I just need to play better. Hopefully now it will change the score between us.

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