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Indian Wells: Sabalenka cruises into final with win over Sakkari


Indian Wells (USA), March 18
World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka cruised into her third final of the season with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over last year's runner-up, No.7 seed Maria Sakkari, in the Indian Wells Masters semifinals, here.

Sakkari had beaten Sabalenka in their last two clashes, which came in the group stages at the WTA Finals in both 2021 and 2022. But Sabalenka prevailed in 1 hour and 23 minutes in the Californian desert on Friday, increasing her head-to-head lead over Sakkari to 5-3.

"I'm just super happy with another final and super happy with the win against Maria. She's such a great fighter, and it's always tough matches against her," Sabalenka said in her post-match press conference.

"I feel really good on court right now, but I also have an understanding that it's not going to be the same all the time. So that's why I keep working hard, to make sure in those days when things are not working my way, I still will be able to compete and to get these wins," she added.

Sabalenka has compiled a 17-1 win-loss record this season, and she has lost only five sets in her 18 matches this year. She is now tied with Caroline Garcia (17-7) for the most WTA main-draw match-wins in 2023. Sabalenka has also won five of her last six matches against Top 10 opposition.

A victory in the final would make Sabalenka the first player to win three titles in 2023, having prevailed at the Australian Open and Adelaide International 1. Belinda Bencic (Adelaide International 2 and Abu Dhabi champion) is the only player other than Sabalenka to have won two titles this season.

The 24-year old Sabalenka finished the match with 21 winners to Sakkari's nine, and she converted five of her ten break points.

Sabalenka will face reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina for the WTA 1000 title on Sunday. Rybakina stormed past defending champion and World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the second semifinal.