"I was trying not to think that it's match point" - Elena Rybakina keeps Sunshine Double hopes alive with comeback win over Paula Badosa at Miami Open
Elena Rybakina performed a great escape against Paula Badosa at the Miami Open on Saturday, saving a match point to avoid a straight-sets defeat before going on to win in three sets. Courtesy of a 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 win against 2021 Indian Wells champion Badosa, Rybakina kept her Sunshine Double hopes alive.
Badosa was at the top of her game, putting a lot of pressure on Rybakina's heavy serve. The Spanish star held a match point at 4-5, 30-40 in the second set, before reigning Indian Wells champion Rybakina calmly served it out. Thereafter, Rybakina found another gear.
Reflecting on the nervy moment as she served to stay in the tournament, Rybakina later said that treating match-point as just another point helped her get out of the tough situation.
"Well, I was trying not to think that it's match point, just try to fight every point," Elena Rybakina said in her post-match on-court interview.
It was one of those matches in which Rybakina felt like she was playing well from the start but trailed for the majority of the proceedings due to a few key moments not going her way to add to her opponent's high level of tennis.
"I think in the first set, I was playing not so bad, it was just some moments here and there and it didn't go my way," Rybakina continued. "Paula played really well until the end, we both fought. So, yeah, I'm just happy that I managed to win in three sets."
Saving match-point helped calm Rybakina's nerves and she felt a lot better on the court thereafter, particularly on her serve.
"I think I found my rhythm after I saved match point. I started to move a bit better, I was pushing more on the serve and, yeah, overall, I think the first set was really close. It was just a mistake here and there, a few from Paula and yeah, overall, I'm just pleased that I won this match," the Kazakh star added.
Rybakina survived another thriller earlier this week, beating Anna Kalinskaya 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in her first match. Meanwhile, the reigning Wimbledon champion extended her winning streak to 10 matches courtesy of Saturday's win against Badosa.
How Elena Rybakina's draw looks like en route to Sunshine Double
Elena Rybakina is now four wins away from winning the 2023 Sunshine Double at the Miami Open. She will face either Petra Martic or Elise Mertens in the fourth round on Monday, with a potential quarterfinal against Jelena Ostapenko in what will be a rematch of their Australian Open quarterfinals. Rybakina won 6-2, 6-4 at Melbourne Park.
Rybakina could then face third seed Jessica Pegula in the semifinals. Magda Linette, rising star Qinwen Zheng, and 27th Anastasia Potapova - who stunned Coco Gauff - are the other players in Pegula's quarter of the draw. If Rybakina wins the Miami Open, she would become the second consecutive female player to win the Sunshine Double after Iga Swiatek won last season.