Rybakina Wins Thrilling Miami Quarterfinal Despite Sakkari Saving Four Match Points

Rybakina Wins Thrilling Miami Quarterfinal Despite Sakkari Saving Four Match Points

by Jordan Reynolds

Last updated

Elena Rybakina won an absorbing battle against a stubborn and determined Maria Sakkari in the Miami Open quarterfinal.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion is one of the most devastating players in the women's game when she is at her best. However, she had to overcome some issues of her own to reach the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.

Rybakina has spoken about the physical discomfort she has been in, with the 24 year old having missed the tournament in Indian Wells before the Miami Open. This makes her efforts at the tournament even more admirable.

Sakkari reached the final in Indian Wells, before losing to Iga Swiatek, who suffered a disappointing loss in Miami in the previous round. Despite eventually losing to Rybakina, the Greek showed her improved mentality under new coach David Witt in this match.

After a very strong start on serve from both players, there were two consecutive breaks in the sixth and seventh games. The first was for Rybakina, before Sakkari responded with some sharp returning in the next game.

Rybakina then won the opening set after a long and thrilling final game. Sakkari saved two set points but she could not fend off the third opportunity. Rybakina took the first set 7-5.

The start of the second set was the only time in the match where both players dropped their level significantly on serve. There were three breaks to start the set, with two of these in favour of Sakkari.

Rybakina broke again in the eighth game and then held two match points at 15-40. But Sakkari dug herself out of trouble with some courageous serving and hitting from the baseline to level the score at 5-5.

A tiebreak was needed to decide the set and it was Sakkari who was sharper during it. She won it 7-4 to claim the set 7-6 after an outstanding mental effort to stay in the contest.

The start of the deciding set was similar to the beginning of the match. Both women held serve comfortably in the opening six games, with the tension continuing to build further and further.

Rybakina's returning suddenly went up another level in the seventh game. She hit some outstanding shots to lead 0-40. Once again, Sakkari fought hard and saved three break points, but the former Wimbledon champion was not denied a fourth time and broke.

The Kazakhstani's returning was also terrific in Sakkari's next service game and she had two more match points. Yet, the lion-hearted Greek refused to throw in the towel again, saving both match points once more, including a stunning backhand passing shot.

Unfortunately for Sakkari, her comeback hopes finally came to an end in the next game. The composed Rybakina hit four unreturned first serves to prevail 7-5 6-7 6-4 in close to three hours after one of the matches of the tournament.


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