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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday October 31, 2023

Elena Rybakina

Maria Sakkari rebounded from a flat start but could not overtake Elena Rybakina at the finish in Cancun.

Photo Source: Getty

Maria Sakkari’s chances looked bleak after winning just nine points in a lopsided opening set against Elena Rybakina.

Tennis Express

But the Greek finally got her feet underneath her at the WTA Finals, as she mounted a strong charge against the 2022 Wimbledon champion, only to fall at the final hurdle, 6-0, 6-7(4), 7-6(2), in two hours and 25 minutes in Tuesday’s second round robin singles match at Cancun.

Rybakina, now 45-14 on the season, stays alive with her victory, and will face Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday for a spot in the semifinals. Jessica Pegula, who defeated Sabalenka earlier on Tuesday, wins the Bacalar group outright.

“I felt that in the beginning for Maria it maybe took some time to get used to my speed,” Rybakina said of her third meeting with the Greek, before referring the controversial state of the court in Cancun, which has received criticism for not providing true bounces by many players.

“As we all know the surface is not the greatest and we were struggling a lot, in the end it was a very tough match and I’m happy that I managed to win,” she said.

Rybakina didn’t drop her level during tense second and third sets, particularly on serve, as she cracked six aces and saved six of seven break points against Sakkari, who fought bravely to come back into the match.

The Greek converted her lone break of serve in the seventh game of the final set to get back on serve, but she could not overcome the steely determination of Rybakina at the finish.

Rybakina is now 16-5 in tiebreaks for the season.

The 24-year-old World No.4 improves to 2-1 against Sakkari and earns her 16th career Top-10 win.

“For sure the serve helped a lot today,” Rybakina said. “I was trying to be not so negative, which was not easy.” Sakkari falls to 3-8 against the Top-10 this season, and 38-24 overall. She is eliminated from semifinal contention with the loss.


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