Iga Swiatek will take on Elena Rybakina as she bids for a third consecutive title at the Qatar Open.

The world number one did not even have to take to the court on Friday, earning a semi-final walkover when opponent Karolina Pliskova withdrew because of a back problem.

The Czech dashed to Doha after winning the Transylvania Open title in Romania on Sunday but decided she could not push her body any further.

Rybakina is also attempting to win back-to-back titles after triumphing at the Abu Dhabi Open last week, and she ended the impressive run of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova with a 6-2 6-4 victory in the last four.

It was closer than the scoreline indicates, with Rybakina saving eight of the nine break points she faced. Pavlyuchenkova won three games in a row from 5-1 down in the second set but could not force a decider.

Rybakina has proved one of the most difficult opponents for Swiatek, with the Kazakh number one winning their last three meetings, all last season.

Rybakina prevailed in straight sets on hard courts at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells before Swiatek retired in the third set of their clash on clay in Rome.

Rybakina, who has now won eight straight matches, said: “First I will try to recover because I played so many matches. Iga’s a great champion so it’s going to be very difficult but I’ll try to enjoy it as much as I can.”

An emotional Iga Swiatek survived a major scare to reach the third round of the Australian Open but Elena Rybakina was beaten by Anna Blinkova in a record-breaking encounter.

Swiatek lost to Danielle Collins in the semi-finals in Melbourne two years ago and it appeared history was about to repeat itself when the American took a 4-1 lead over the world number one in the deciding set under the roof on Rod Laver Arena.

But Swiatek responded with five games in a row to claim a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory and set up a clash with Czech teenager Linda Noskova.

The Pole sobbed into her towel at the end of the match and she said with a relieved smile: “I was at the airport already.

“I wanted to fight until the end. She played perfectly so I knew it would be hard for anybody to maintain that level. I waited for the mistakes to come. I’m really proud of myself because it wasn’t easy.”

Rybakina, the third seed and last year’s beaten finalist, also appeared like she might escape after saving two match points to force a tie-break against 57th-ranked Blinkova.

But, more than half an hour later, Blinkova finally clinched a 6-4 4-6 7-6 (22/20) victory on her 10th match point, with Rybakina having seen six opportunities go begging.

It was the longest tie-break in a singles match in grand slam history.

For Blinkova, it is also the biggest win of her career, and she said: “I don’t know what to say. It was super tough. I just tried to stay focused on every point.

“I had so many match points. I tried to be aggressive at these moments but my hand was shaking and my legs too. I tried to be calm as hard as I could and I’m super happy to win in the end.

“This day I will remember for the rest of my life. Especially on this court, with this crowd. I will never forget it. It’s the best day of my life so far.”

After her defeat by Swiatek, Collins walked straight off court into the press room, where she revealed this will be her final season.

“I don’t really know exactly when (I will stop) but this will be my last season and I’m really looking forward to that,” said the 30-year-old, who also made the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2019 and reached a career-high ranking of seven.

“I have other things that I’d like to accomplish in my life outside of tennis and would like to be able to have the time to be able to do that. Obviously having kids is a big priority for me.”

Swiatek edged a tight first set disrupted by a brief rain break but the aggression of Collins was troubling the top seed and the American, who also made the semi-finals here in 2019, won five games in a row to take a 5-1 lead in the second set.

She showed nerves, hitting four double faults as she failed to serve it out at the first time of asking, but she was rock solid on her second opportunity.

Swiatek found returns drilled back at her feet and she was staring at the exit door when Collins broke serve twice in succession to lead 4-1 in the deciding set.

However, the American tightened up with the finish line in sight and Swiatek came roaring back, clinching victory on her third match point with a backhand into the corner.

Swiatek applied strapping under her left knee at the start of the third set, but she played down concerns, saying: “I’ve been struggling a little bit with my knee since (the WTA Finals in) Cancun. I have ups and downs but it’s not like it affects my game. You don’t have to be worried.”

On a day of high drama at Melbourne Park, fifth seed Jessica Pegula was also ousted, going down 6-4 6-2 to France’s Clara Burel, while former finalist Sloane Stephens beat 14th seed Daria Kasatkina 4-6 6-3 6-3.

World number five Jessica Pegula defeated Greece’s Maria Sakkari in straight sets 6-3 6-2 in the WTA Finals, continuing her unbeaten run through the group stages.

Pegula had already secured her spot in Saturday’s semi-finals by beating both Sabalenka and Rybakina in her earlier matches in Mexico.

But the American is yet to drop a set so far this tournament and it took her just under 80 minutes to beat Sakkari, who failed to qualify for the semi-finals after losing all of her games.

Meanwhile, fighting for a spot in the semi-finals, world number one Aryna Sabalenka and world number four Elena Rybakina had their match suspended due to wet weather.

Sabalenka won the first set 6-2 in the Australian Open final rematch on a rain interrupted evening and had Rybakina on the ropes early in the second set.

But Rybakina fought back to take the lead 5-3 before the match was called off for the night, with play to resume on Friday.

Also on Friday, Iga Swiatek will take on Ons Jabeur while Coco Gauff plays Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova to decide who makes the semi-finals.

Ons Jabeur found it too painful to rewatch last year’s Wimbledon final defeat by Elena Rybakina but she will happily take another look at the rematch.

The sixth seed, who also lost to Iga Swiatek in the US Open final last year, will take on second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last four after fighting from a set down to defeat Rybakina 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-1.

Jabeur missed a set point in the opener but fought back impressively, hitting more winners and making fewer errors than her opponent, who has established a fledgling big three in the women’s game this season with Sabalenka and Swiatek.

Jabeur left it to her coach to analyse last year’s match, where she led by a set before Rybakina fought back.

“I couldn’t watch it,” she said. “Very, very difficult. Until this day, I couldn’t watch this match. I can watch today’s match. That’s OK.

“Even watching the Netflix (documentary) show was painful. If I watch the whole match, it would have been terrible.”

Jabeur certainly exorcised last year’s demons, coping much better with the pace of Rybakina’s ball, but with the result came a sense of what if.

“I wish we could exchange this match for the final last year,” she said wistfully during her on-court interview.

Later in the press room, she added: “I believe last year maybe I wasn’t ready to play this kind of match. I don’t regret last year. It happened for a reason. It was meant to be this year. It was meant to be in the quarter-finals.

“I have learned a lot from the final last year. Definitely very proud of myself for the improvement that I did mentally, physically, and with the tennis racket.”

The Queen was among the interested watchers from the Royal Box as the pair took to Centre Court.

When not giggling at umpire Kader Nouni’s deep voice, the crowd were again largely behind the likeable and flamboyant Jabeur, whose game and demeanour contrast so strikingly with stone-faced Rybakina.

It was the Kazakh who made the first move with a break to lead 3-1 but Jabeur did what none of Rybakina’s opponents had managed since Shelby Rogers in her first set of the tournament by breaking straight back.

A lovely angled backhand pass gave Jabeur a 6-5 lead and she created a set point serving for it only for Rybakina to force a tie-break with a series of fierce backhands.

The reigning champion then went on to take it, and Jabeur’s frustration threatened to boil over when Rybakina’s big serve came to her rescue down 0-40 in the second game of the second set.

Jabeur is known for her creativity on the court but what was notable here was how she was able to match and even out-hit Rybakina from the back of the court, stepping in to break serve again to clinch the second set.

She was imperious in the third, with Rybakina struggling to find her first serve and ultimately well beaten.

Jabeur believes her show of power bodes well for taking on Australian Open champion Sabalenka next in what will be another big test.

“I think I’m hitting better,” said the 28-year-old. “I’m more confident in my shots. Serve-wise, I think it’s getting better. And it definitely needs to get better, especially playing players like her or Aryna.

“But most of all I think I was hitting fast. If you want to hit hard, I’m ready to hit hard, too.

“It’s going to be a very difficult match. Probably her shouting that way, me shouting this way. I’m going to try my best to stay focused and take every opportunity.”

Rybakina was left to rue a difficult day on serve but was proud of her efforts in defending a grand slam title for the first time.

“For sure she was making better decisions from the court than last year, I would say,” said the third seed.

“I also had a lot of opportunities this time, especially in the second set. I felt that my serve wasn’t that great. It’s my weapon and it was not working that well.

“It was kind of a new challenge for me coming as a defending champion. It’s of course a different feeling. Actually I’m really proud of the first few matches because it’s not easy.

“I would say that every match I played was a little bit better than the other one. I think, no matter the result of today, it was a positive few weeks for me here.”

Ons Jabeur gained revenge with victory over defending champion Elena Rybakina in a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final.

The sixth seed, who also lost to Iga Swiatek in the US Open final last year, will take on second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last four after fighting from a set down to defeat Rybakina 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-1.

Jabeur missed a set point in the opening set but fought back impressively, hitting more winners and making fewer errors than her opponent, who has established a fledgling big three in the women’s game this season with Sabalenka and Iga Swiatek.

The Queen was among the interested watchers from the Royal Box as the pair took to Centre Court.

They had not faced each other since last year’s final, where Jabeur took the first set before Rybakina fought back to win in three.

While not giggling at umpire Kader Nouni’s deep voice, the crowd were again largely behind the likeable and flamboyant Jabeur, whose game and demeanour contrast so strikingly with stone-faced Rybakina.

It was the Kazakh who made the first move with a break to lead 3-1 but Jabeur hit back immediately, breaking back to love.

The hard, flat hitting and ferocious serve of Rybakina made it hard for Jabeur to bring her tricks into play too often but a lovely angled backhand pass put her 6-5 ahead.

Rybakina, who was beaten by Sabalenka in the Australian Open final, had not dropped serve since the first set of the tournament so to break twice in a set was a notable achievement for Jabeur.

However, the sixth seed was unable to serve out the set, seeing a set point go begging as Rybakina engineered a break back with a series of searing backhands.

Both players looked to be feeling the occasion but it was Rybakina who handled her nerves better in the tie-break, helped by her most potent weapon.

The Rybakina serve also got her out of a hole down 0-1 0-40 in the second set, Jabeur’s frustration obvious as the break points were snatched away.

But the defending champion was powerless to stop Jabeur when she applied pressure at 5-4, the Tunisian leaping to put away a simple volley before bouncing to her chair.

When a second successive break of serve followed to start the deciding set, the crowd began to sense the finish line.

Jabeur was playing better and better, coping brilliantly with the power of Rybakina and hitting plenty of her own winners, particularly down the line.

A second break of serve, clinched with a precision backhand, gave her the chance to claim victory, and a Rybakina forehand into the net sealed the deal.

The remaining singles quarter-finals are completed on Wednesday as Wimbledon continues to take shape.

World number one Carlos Alcaraz will again look to outline his title credentials against fellow youngster Holger Rune while there is a rematch of last year’s women’s final between Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at day 10.

Match of the Day


Fans on Centre Court will watch a match that is fit for a final as Elena Rybakina takes on Ons Jabeur.

 

It is a rematch of last year’s final which saw Rybakina claim her first grand slam title in a three-set win that left Jabeur heartbroken.

Both women are again looking the real deal having got to this stage without any trouble at all.

Jabeur says she has learned from last year’s final defeat and she is gunning for revenge.

King Carlos to reign?


Questions were asked of Carlos Alcaraz’s ability on the grass ahead of this Wimbledon campaign but he has resoundingly answered them.

 

During his first four matches he has proved he is very much at home here and is a real contender to win the title.

Standing in the way of a first Wimbledon semi-final appearance is Holger Rune in a clash of the new kids on the block.

At 20, Rune is also a future star and is looking for a first grand slam semi-final, but has his work cut out.

British pair chasing more history


Naiktha Bains and Maia Lumsden became the first all-British pair to reach the quarter-finals of the Wimbledon women’s doubles in 40 years and now they have a last-four spot in their sights.

 

Not since Jo Durie and Anne Hobbs in 1983 have a home team got this far and Storm Hunter and Elise Mertens now stand in their way.

If they were to win on Court Two, they would equal Durie and Hobbs’ achievement, which is not a bad effort considering Lumsden thought her career would be over after a bout of long Covid.

Jonny O’Mara and Olivia Nicholls are flying the flag in the mixed doubles as they are through to the semi-finals, where they will face Lyudmyla Kichenok and Mate Pavic on Court Three.

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupsi are also in action in the men’s doubles quarter-finals with their respective partners Michael Venus and Wesley Koolhof.

Order of play

Centre Court
Ons Jabeur v Elena Rybakina
Carlos Alcaraz v Holger Rune

Court One
Madison Keys v Aryna Sabalenka
Daniil Medvedev v Chris Eubanks

Weather

Warm with sunny intervals

Ons Jabeur set up a rematch of last year’s Wimbledon final after booking a quarter-final date with Elena Rybakina.

Jabeur, the sixth seed, was beaten in the showpiece match as Rybakina won her first grand slam title 12 months ago but she will be out for revenge when they meet in the last-eight on Wednesday.

She got there with a demolition of two-time champion Petra Kvitova on Centre Court, dishing out a 6-0 6-3 hammering in little over an hour.

The Tunisian brought her best game to the proceedings, delighting fans with drop shots, passing winners on the run and thunderbolts from the baseline as she made herself a real contender once again.

Kvitova, winner here in 2011 and 2014, was a shadow of her former self and struggled to cope with Jabeur’s variety, sending down 22 unforced errors.

“I don’t know who played today,” Jabeur joked. “It’s amazing, I love how Petra plays.

“I respect what she has done for women’s tennis, for me to be able to win against her is huge.

“(The quarter-final) will be a difficult match, I am going for my revenge, it was a difficult final last year, it is going to bring a lot of memories, I am hoping to play like today and get the win, it will be a difficult match.”


Rybakina will go into the rematch fresh after she was on court for just 21 minutes before her last-16 opponent Beatriz Haddad Maia retired through injury.

 

The Brazilian was enjoying her best run at Wimbledon, having never previously got past the second round, but hopes of a first quarter-final appearance were taken away from her when she suffered an injury early in the first set.

She had a lengthy medical timeout trailing 3-1 and tried to carry on but after being unable to move during a Rybakina service game it was clear that she could not continue.

She said: “I’m very upset now because I didn’t have the chance to, well, keep playing.

“Especially my first time on Centre Court here in Wimbledon, which is my favourite tournament.”

Aryna Sabalenka’s victory over Ekaterina Alexandrova ensured all of the women’s ‘big three’ made it to the last-eight.

The Belarusian is enjoying every minute of being back at this year’s tournament and did not waste much time in getting the better of the 21st seed, winning 6-4 6-0 on Court One.

She now plays Maddison Keys in the last-eight, in what will a mouth-watering encounter, and her eyes will be firmly fixed on a possible semi-final clash with Rybakina.

The first set was even and on serve until Sabalenka struck at 5-4 to take the lead and that gave her the platform for a dominant second set, which saw her bagel the Russian in 27 minutes.

Katie Boulter conceded she was beaten by the “much better player” as her Wimbledon run came to an end with a crushing loss to defending champion Elena Rybakina.

Boulter cemented her new-found status as British number one by reaching the last-32 for a second successive year, and there were high hopes she could at least give third seed Rybakina a match.

Boulter has shown many times that she loves the big stage but, having waited until nearly 9pm to walk out on Centre Court, she managed to detain Rybakina for only 56 minutes in a 6-1 6-1 hammering that ends home singles hopes at Wimbledon.

“Obviously a really tough match against a tough competitor,” said the 26-year-old. “I gave it my best today. I wouldn’t say I really felt like I got into the match fully.

“She’s clearly the defending champion for a reason, and I learned a lot today and that’s what I’m going to have to take from today’s match.”

After some positive results earlier in the week it has been a chastening two days for British tennis, with Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie and Liam Broady all falling on Friday.

Boulter pulled off the best win of her career in the second round here last year, defeating former finalist Karolina Pliskova, and in seven previous matches against top-10 players had only failed to win at least a set on one occasion.

Rybakina had not been convincing in the first two rounds after coming into the tournament under-cooked because of illness but she hit her stride straight away and the match quickly got away from Boulter.

The Kazakh possesses probably the fiercest strike in the women’s game, as well as the best serve following Serena Williams’ retirement, and she lost only nine points on serve throughout the match while hitting 20 winners.

Boulter admitted she has never faced a ball-strike quite like Rybakina’s before, saying: “Obviously it’s a lot quicker and the majority of girls, they don’t quite hit the ball like that. It’s quite flat. You don’t really see where she’s going. She disguises it very well.

“I struggled with it a lot today. It felt like I got into it a little bit at times and I started to pick up her ball but she was relentless at the end of the day. She was the much better player.”

Having to wait until so late to go on court after two long matches and a rain delay probably did not help Boulter, who nevertheless insisted she enjoyed the occasion.

“It was quite late,” she said. “Obviously it was my first match playing under lights. It was a little bit different and it took time for me to adjust on serve especially. I don’t think I quite found it.

“I will always reflect back on something positive. The crowd are incredible. I wanted to give them a bit more today, but unfortunately I couldn’t do that. But I appreciated them every single second I was out there.”

There are certainly positives to take from the grass-court season for Boulter, who won her first WTA Tour event in Nottingham last month, while she will be at a career-high ranking just outside the top 70 a week on Monday.

“I’m sure it’s going to be a tough night but I’m going to sit here tomorrow morning and tell you that I’m at a career high,” she said.

“I’ve had some seriously positive weeks. I’ve come off the back of five long weeks with no injuries, no issues.

“I’ve got a great rest of the year ahead of me. I’ve got not many points to defend. It’s a really good opportunity for me to keep pushing my ranking up and really make a statement and play many more matches like today. They’re the matches that I want to be playing.”

It is not the end of Boulter’s Wimbledon, meanwhile, with the Leicestershire player due to contest her second-round mixed doubles match alongside boyfriend Alex De Minaur on Sunday.

“I’m sure tonight Alex will be giving me some words of wisdom,” she said. “I’m going to be ready to go tomorrow and enjoying myself and having fun. It will be a great way to end Wimbledon, for sure.”

Rybakina was delighted with her performance and she moves on to a fourth-round clash against 13th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia.

Katie Boulter says she will have nothing to lose when she gets a shot at defending champion Elena Rybakina at Wimbledon.

The British number one is through to the third round for the second consecutive year after a 6-0 3-6 6-3 win over Viktoriya Tomova, and will meet last year’s winner, probably on Centre Court, on Saturday.

“I think it’s a super great opportunity for me. I’ve got nothing to lose. She’s clearly the defending champion for a reason,” said British number one Boulter.

“I’m going to have a swing and go for it. I’ve got a lot of tennis behind me. It’s time for me to test my skills against an incredible champion.”

Boulter looked set to breeze through her second-round match against Bulgarian Tomova after wrapping up the first set in 27 minutes.

But the 26-year-old from Leicester put her family, as well as boyfriend and men’s 15th seed Alex De Minaur, through the wringer when Tomova hit back to take the second and level the match.

“Do my family get nervous? I don’t know. I’m sure they do,” added Boulter. “My grandpa spends a lot of time actually cramping with nerves. When I see him walk off, I know he’s struggling!

“Obviously I’ve kind of been in their shoes a little bit more watching Alex. I hate every minute of it because it is so stressful.”

Back-to-back net cords helped Boulter break for 2-0 in the decider and after that second-set wobble, she regained her composure and asserted herself on the contest once more.

The Boulter serve was back on song, but she needed to come out on the right end of an epic 24-shot rally before converting a third match point with her 36th winner to complete a fine victory.

“I think I’m playing really well. I’ve played a lot of matches on the grass. I feel very comfortable,” she said.

“It’s always a tough match on grass when you’re playing people like I am today. They’re going to come back at you with a lot more trouble. I have to find ways to win.

“A lot of it is my self-belief. A lot of matches I’ve really drawn from recently to help me get over the line. I definitely did that again today, as well as the British crowd.”

Elena Rybakina made a second-round exit from the Madrid Open as a difficult start to the clay campaign continued for the Australian Open runner-up and Indian Wells champion.

After abandoning a last-16 clash with Beatriz Haddad Maia last week in Stuttgart due to a back injury, this time Rybakina lasted the distance against Anna Kalinskaya but suffered a 7-5 4-6 6-2 defeat. She had benefitted from a first-round bye but was found wanting on Friday.

World number 60 Kalinskaya got the better of the seventh-ranked Rybakina in two hours and 13 minutes, avenging a defeat at the same stage in Miami last month to her fellow Moscow-born player.

Iga Swiatek made no such mistake in her opening match, after also receiving a first-round bye, with the world number one posting a 6-3 6-2 win over Austria's Julia Grabher.

Swiatek led by an early break in the second set but was broken back; however, she was soon back in the ascendancy and made sure of a place in the last-32 stage of a tournament she elected to miss last year due to a minor injury.

Third seed Jessica Pegula was tested by Poland's Magdalena Frech, but the American came through 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in an hour and 41 minutes. Pegula was runner-up to Ons Jabeur in last year's final.

Pegula's fellow US player, Alycia Parks, continued to catch the eye as the 22-year-old ousted 15th seed Victoria Azarenka, defeating the former world number one 6-2 7-6 (7-5).

Parks, who has rocketed from 150th in the rankings last November to 40th place on that list, now holds a 4-1 career winning record against opponents ranked inside the WTA's top 20.

Former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova, seeded 11th, was tested by Danka Kovinic before powering through a deciding set to win 6-3 4-6 6-0 against the Montenegrin.

Eugenie Bouchard, meanwhile, was no match for Martina Trevisan, with the Italian running out a 6-2 7-5 winner from a clash with Canada's former Wimbledon runner-up.

Anastasia Potapova, Ekaterina Alexandrova, Daria Kasatkina, Veronika Kudermetova and Bernarda Pera were among other seeded winners as the last-32 line-up took shape, but 25th seed Jil Teichmann was beaten, going down 3-6 6-2 6-4 to Lesia Tsurenko.

Iga Swiatek is through to the quarter-finals of the Stuttgart Open after easing to a 6-1 6-4 win over Zheng Qinwen on her return from a rib injury.

Swiatek had not played since sustaining the issue in the semi-finals of Indian Wells over a month ago, but advanced on Thursday despite stating that she felt "rusty".

The world number one won 84 per cent of points after landing her first serve in as she made up for lost time.

Swiatek also forced eight break points, winning four of them as she took just and hour and 26 minutes to set up a quarter-final with Karolina Pliskova, who bested Donna Vekic in a thriller.

Pliskova looked to be on her way to a routine win as she claimed the first set 6-2, only for the Croatian to take the second via a tie-break.

The decider also went the distance, with Pliskova able to finally put Vekic away 6-2 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-5) to book her clash with Swiatek.

Coco Gauff perhaps paid the price for taking almost three hours to beat Veronika Kudermetova on Wednesday, as the fifth seed fell to a straight-sets loss to Anastasia Potapova on Thursday, going down 6-2 6-3.

Fourth seed Caroline Garcia will go up against Potapova next after she defeated Tatjana Maria 7-6 (7-5) 6-4, while Paula Badosa had few problems seeing off fellow Spaniard Cristina Bucsa 6-1 6-2 and will face second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the last eight.

Ons Jabeur forged a comeback win over Jelena Ostapenko to get her Stuttgart Open campaign off to a flying start.

Jabeur endured an injury-hit start to 2023 but bounced back with a victory in Charleston and made it six wins on the bounce by overcoming Latvian Ostapenko 1-6 7-6 6-3 on Wednesday.

Next up for Jabeur is a potential quarter-final tie with Elena Rybakina – a rematch of last year's Wimbledon final.

Rybakina, who won the Indian Wells Open in March, came up trumps on that occasion, fighting back to win 3-6 6-2 6–2.

The Kazakh, seeded sixth, overcame German Jule Niemeier 7-5 6-3 in the round of 32 and will now face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last 16.

World number two Aryna Sabalenka also booked her progression to the last eight, beating 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-2 6-3.

Coco Gauff, meanwhile, claimed her first victory in Stuttgart as she overcame a tough test from Veronika Kudermetova.

Gauff, the world number five, was taken to a deciding tie-break but ultimately prevailed 6-2 4-6 7-6 (7-3). The American will face Anastasia Potapova in the next round.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova defeated Maria Sakkari in straight sets in Wednesday's other encounter.

 

 

Elena Rybakina's superb run in the United States was ended by Petra Kvitova, who won 7-6 (16-14) 6-2 to clinch the Miami Open title.

Two-time grand slam champion Kvitova, 33, became the second-oldest Miami champion, denying young gun Rybakina a Sunshine Double in the process.

Rybakina, fresh from her triumph at the Indian Wells Open, has been in stunning form but could not find her groove on Saturday.

After clinching the first set following a marathon tie-break, Kvitova took momentum into the second, cruising into a 5-2 lead before sealing the win with a break – Rybakina sending a forehand long.

Kvitova equalled Simona Halep as the players with the third-most WTA 1000 titles (nine), with only Serena Williams (13) and Victoria Azarenka (10) having won more since 2009.

"It feels unbelievable. I'm 33, and it's my 30th title, so I'm very happy," Kvitova told Amazon Prime Sport.

"I didn't think, that was the key. Elena didn't lose a tie-break [this season]. I thought, well, she has to lose at some time. I had to be a bit more aggressive, it was a bit of a struggle. I was a bit nervous, yes.

"I would have laughed [if someone told me I was going to win] but it feels great for sure. Nobody expected this, not me, not my team. I'm happy I'm injury free and, oh my God, I made it."

Kvitova is the second woman to win the singles title in Miami after turning 33, following Serena Williams in 2015.

Indeed, only Serena Williams (68), Justine Henin (42), Venus Williams (40), Kim Clijsters (40) and Maria Sharapova (36) have more WTA singles title to their name in the 21st century than the Czech.

Rybakina, meanwhile, will lament the chance of a Sunshine Double going begging.

The 23-year-old is the fourth player to fail to win the Sunshine Double in Miami's final after Serena Williams (1999), Lindsay Davenport (2000) and Sharapova (2006 and 2013).

"I want to congratulate Petra for a great two weeks here in Miami, and good luck for the rest of the year," said Rybakina. "Thank you to my team, we'll keep going."

Petra Kvitova is through to her 41st WTA singles final after defeating Sorana Cirstea 7-5 6-4 in Friday's Miami Open semi-final.

Kvitova, 33, already has 29 singles titles under her belt, including eight at the WTA 1000 level. Despite showing she can still compete with the best – making the final at the 2019 Dubai Championships, the 2020 Qatar Open and the 2022 Cincinnati Open, her last WTA 1000 victory came at the 2018 Madrid Open.

Against Romania's Cirstea – who came into the contest with nine wins from her past 10 matches – Czech veteran Kvitova was put on the back foot early as her serve was broken to go 5-2 down.

But she saved two set points, and used that momentum to ignite a run of seven consecutive games, taking the first set and the early break in the second as a result.

Kvitova did not allow Cirstea to produce a single break point opportunity in the second set, winning 75 per cent (21-of-28) of her total service points to slam the door shut.

With the win, Kvitova joined Chris Evert and Serena Williams as the only women to ever reach the Miami Open final after turning 33 years old, booking her place against the hottest talent on the tour – Elena Rybakina – in the decider.

Rybakina has won her past 13 matches, and is looking to become the fifth woman to ever complete the Sunshine Double after eliminating both world number one Iga Swiatek and world number two Aryna Sabalenka to lift the Indian Wells Open title.

 

Elena Rybakina moved one win away from completing the 'Sunshine Double' and did so on the back of a serving feat last achieved by Serena Williams almost seven years ago.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Rybakina battled past Jessica Pegula in the semi-finals of the Miami Open, scoring a 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 win to book a clash with Petra Kvitova or Sorana Cirstea in the title match.

In doing so, Rybakina set up the chance of sealing an Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back double, a feat that only four women have pulled off before: Steffi Graf (1994, 1996), Kim Clijsters (2005), Victoria Azarenka (2016) and Iga Swiatek (2022).

She also becomes just the sixth woman to appear in the finals of the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami in the same year after Monica Seles (1991), Graf (1994), Lindsay Davenport (2000), Martina Hingis (2000) and Maria Sharapova (2012).

The Williams accomplishment that Rybakina has matched stands as testament to the Kazakhstani player's serving prowess.

She has served at least 10 aces in each of her five matches in Miami, and Williams at Wimbledon in 2016 was the last player from the WTA Tour to serve 10-plus aces in five matches in a single tournament.

Rybakina lost to Aryna Sabalenka in the Australian Open final in January but has put that behind her and enjoyed a stellar March. She beat Swiatek in the Indian Wells semi-finals before toppling Sabalenka in the final, and now another chance of a trophy awaits.

Discussing the challenge of completing the hard-court US double, Rybakina said: "It's really difficult, and because of different conditions in these two weeks by the matches you could see that it's much more difficult for me here than even in Indian Wells.

"It's just the finals, still close but the same time far. The Sunshine Double, I try my best, and hopefully I can make it. I didn't expect to be in the final. I knew that it was going to be very tough from the beginning, from the first match. And it was, actually. First two matches was really tough."

She came through dicey three-setters against Anna Kalinskaya and Paula Badosa before kicking on, winning in straight sets against Elise Mertens, Martina Trevisan and Pegula.

"Actually, the whole two weeks were really tough," Rybakina said after seeing off Pegula late on Thursday. "I'm happy to be in another final."

With her runs in Indian Wells and Miami, the Russian-born 23-year-old has already won 13 main-draw matches at WTA 1000 level in 2023, matching her personal best for an entire season, achieved last year.

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