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Elena Rybakina Edges Into Second Miami Open Final

Photo credit: Mubadala Abu Dhabi Tennis Championships Facebook.

Long-distance duels don’t faze Elena Rybakina.

Pushed to the limit in a topsy-turvy test today, Rybakina delivered convincing closing kick.

A resilient Rybakina charged through 11 of the final 13 points edging Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(2) to reach her second straight Miami Open final.

The fourth-seeded Rybakina scored her fourth three-set win of the tournament to reach her fourth final of the season.

Showing her toughness, Rybakina raised her record to 22-3 in 2024, including a 9-1 mark in three-setters.

Though the stoic Rybakina looked locked in throughout the last game and the tiebreaker, she conceded she was drained.

“I think just the humidity and conditions here are really tough and physically I am not my best so of course it was really difficult for me just to stay out here,” Rybakina told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “It’s not easy to play. I just took some break, I changed and I was just fighting for every point.

“I knew it was going to be a battle. She’s not going to give up—me neither—so we ended up 7-6 in the third.”

The victory vaults Rybakina, who was runner-up to Petra Kvitova in the 2023 final, into Saturday’s 3 p.m. title match.

Rybakina will face either 53rd-ranked Floridian and home hero Danielle Collins or red-hot world No. 16 Ekaterina Alexandrova, who has toppled world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and world No. 5 Jessica Pegula en route to her first Miami semifinal.

Illness and injury sometimes raise skepticism about Rybakina’s stamina—and those whispers likely grew louder when Azarenka dished out a second-set bagel bursting through seven straight games today.

Serving for the match at 5-4, Rybakina was two points from the final only to see a feisty Azarenka break back.

Three-time Miami Open champion Azarenka had all the momentum. Rybakina resolved to let it rip—and was rewarded for courageously laying it all on the line.

“Every match here was really tough for me—with Maria [Sakkari] same situation: early break and I was serving,” Rybakina said. “Here with Vika I know sometimes it doesn’t go, also she was returning pretty well. She was reading the serve so it’s not easy.

“After that game I knew I had to keep fighting and in the tiebreaker I just decided to go for it no matter what. The serve all of a sudden the percentage went up it really went my way and I was just going for it at the end.”

It’s an emotionally-draining defeat for the 34-year-old Azarenka.

The second oldest semifinalist in tournament history dominated the middle of the match with a vintage Vika performance that saw her deconstruct the bigger-hitting Rybakina. Azarenka won seven more points (95 to 88), but a resolute Rybakina raised her game in the breaker denying the Belarusian her 200th WTA 1000-level win.

ltimately, Rybakina’s first-serve and first-strike were the key strokes: She served 59 percent, smacked 11 aces and won 40 of 49 first-serve points.

Don’t let her quiet disposition fool you: Rybakina is one of the Tour’s most explosive players. She showed it staring down double break point at 2-3.

Rocketing three successive aces, including a 115 mph blast hit so hard it left stray strands of felt on the line, Rybakina slammed shut the uprising to level after six games.