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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Elena Rybakina roared through nine straight games rallying past 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 into the Beijing quarterfinals—and a potential AO final rematch vs. Aryna Sabalenka.

Photo credit: Emmanuel Wong/Getty

Illness and fatigue suddenly struck Elena Rybakina in the second set today.

Staring down a one-set, 2-4 deficit, Rybakina was sick and tired of being pushed around by 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva.

Watch: Polmans Disqualified After Hitting Umpire in Face

The fifth-seeded Rybakina responded with rousing rally.

Rybakina roared through nine straight games sparking an emphatic 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 comeback to burst into the Beijing quarterfinals and end the Russian qualifier’s inspired run.

Thumping her 10th ace down the T, Rybakina ended declarative comeback with an exclamation point.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion saved six of nine break points and dominated Andreeva's serve in the decider completely flipping the script.

Elevating her level in the final set, Rybakina won 16 of the first 17 points played in the decider wearing down Andreeva.

Hunting for her third WTA 1000 championship of the season, Rybakina raised her record to 43-12 on the season, including an 11-9 mark in three-setters.

Rybakina could play Aryna Sabalenka in a rematch of the Australian Open final if world No. 1 Sabalenka stops Jasmine Paolini in her round of 16.

In a brilliant and sometime breathtaking final, a fierce Sabalenka subdued Rybakina 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 to capture her maiden major title in Melbourne last January.

The 24-year-old Rybakina dropped just eight games in two tournament victories, but looked a half-step slow as a bold Andreeva rolled through 10 of the first 14 games in their first meeting today. Andreeva showed why so many opponents have praised her as a potential future Top 10 player hitting crisp combinations.

Befuddled by Andreeva’s attack to her forehand wing in the opening set, Rybakina began playing off her front foot more frequently as the second-set progressed.

Pounding the teenager’s second serve, Rybakina won 12 of 16 points played on Andreeva’s second serve over the final two sets. Andreeva won 8 of 11 second-serve points in the first set, but managed only 4 points on second serve over the final two sets.

Talented teen Andreeva, who played through qualifying to reach the Wimbledon round of 16, was bidding to become the youngest woman to reach a WTA 1000 quarterfinal in history. For a set-and-a-half, Andreeva was on course to master the mission.

The fifth-seeded Rybakina had won 16 of her last 17 matches against opponents ranked outside of the Top 50.

None of that mattered much to Andreeva who burst out of the blocks, breaking to open when Rybakina missed a backhand.

The 60th-ranked Russian was driving the ball deep to Rybakina’s forehand wing, knowing the Indian Wells champion typically responds with the crosscourt forehand. In four service games in the first set, Andreeva was pushed to deuce just once.

Quick off the mark and wasting little time between points, Andreeva was striking with conviction.

Andreeva lashed a backhand winner down the line that landed on the sideline breaking again for 4-2.

A calm Andreeva served out the 32-minute opener at 15.

Rybakina tripled Andreeva’s error output—16 to 5—and did not earn a break point in the opening set.

Playing with more variety on her forehand, Andreeva mixed some loopy topspin with flatter forehands that denied Rybakina rhythm. Andreeva won six points in a row building a 4-2 second-set lead. She went 15-30 in the seventh game and was two points from serving for the quarterfinals.

That’s when Rybakina began swinging more freely and gained her groove at the right time.

Rybakina won seven of the next eight points on her serve and broke four times in a row to take the second set and go up in the third.

Controlling the center of the court, Rybakina reeled off 16 of the first 17 points in the decider taking a commanding 4-0 lead en route to a one hour, 49-minute triumph.

In the first WTA 1000 clash between two Polish women in the round of 16 since 2017 Wuhan, Iga Swiatek crushed Magda Linette 6-1, 6-1 to cruise into the quarterfinals for the 14th time in her last 15 tournament starts.

The second-seeded Swiatek surrendered just eight points on serve, including winning 16 of 19 first-serve points. Swiatek did not face a break point in a 65-minute thrashing.

"I think I played really well," Swiatek said. "I'm just happy that I could dominate from the beginning till the end.

"I didn't lose my focus. I was pretty determined today, so I'm really proud of my performance."

Reigning Roland Garros champion Swiatek raised her 2023 record to a WTA-best 60-11 this season.

Swiatek will face either ninth-seeded Caroline Garcia or Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina for a semifinal spot.

The four-time Grand Slam champion said her decision not to chase ranking points in a bid to surpass Sabalenka for year-end No. 1 can give her time to work on her game and become a better player. 

"Before US Open, honestly I was kind of torn if I want to really keep pushing myself, play every tournament to fight for year-end No. 1," Swiatek said. "But after US Open I realized there are more important stuff to kind of take care of. Sometimes it's better to take it easy.

"I also shifted my attitude a little bit. I shifted it to just becoming a better player. So for sure I'm not that kind of player who's, like, eager to play every tournament week by week. I'm also a player that needs to have a life and a balance.

"Yeah, also I feel like tennis is more fun that way when you have little bit of breaks, then you can come back and be more hungry for the game."

World No. 22 Liudmila Samsonova converted seven of 20 break-point chances conquering Marta Kostyuk 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-5 advancing to her first quarterfinal since she knocked off Aryna Sabalenka, Belinda Bencic and Elena Rybakina en route to the Montreal final where she ran out of gas against Jessica Pegula.

It is the second WTA 1000 quarterfinal appearance for Samsonova, who defeated Kostyuk for the fourth time in as many meetings.

Samsonova exploited 12 double faults from Kostyuk in a two hour, 55-minute victory. Samsonova improved to 30-21 on the season.

The explosive Samsonova, who beat two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round, faces another hard-hitting Grand Slam champion, Jelena Ostapenko, in the quarterfinals.

Earlier, the 13th-seeded Ostapenko stopped fourth-seeded Jessica Pegula 6-4, 6-2, on the strength of five service breaks.

A 2017 Beijing semifinalist, Ostapenko climbs to No. 14 in the WTA Live Rankings.


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