Sabalenka's first event as the world number one started off with a win, but it didn't conclude with a win. Despite wanting to go all the way and win the trophy, Sabalenka stumbled in the quarter-final against Elena Rybakina.
They played some pretty big matches over the years, and while this wasn't a huge one, it was an important one. Rybakina lost to Sabalenka in the Australian Open final earlier this year but got her revenge in Indian Wells, beating her in the final.
Now she's beaten her again and quite comfortably, which is impressive. The opening set was very close, which was expected. Both of them do play really well in conditions like these, but Rybakina was sharper today.
She took an early break and gave it back, but the heavy pressure she applied yielded results eventually. She broke Sabalenka at 5-5 to close out the opening set 7-5.
The huge problem for Sabalenka was the lack of serve; she didn't serve well and naturally it translated to a lot of chances for Rybakina which she used. The Kazakhstani player mostly cruised through her service games without any problems.
The second set was even more impressive because Sabalenka served even worse, and Rybakina once again had plenty of chances to attack her on the weaker second serve. It resulted in a double-break lead, which sealed the deal.
The final score was 7-5 6-2 as Rybakina served 12 aces, and dropped only 9 points behind her first serve. A truly great performance though Sabalenka didn't really help herself to win this match.
She had eight double faults and won only 13 of 34 points on her second serve. That pains a pretty clear picture of how the match went. In the semifinals, Rybakina will take on Liudmila Samsonova as the winner will then meet the winner of semifinal blockbuster between Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek.