WTA: Elena Rybakina rallies past Victoria Azarenka to reach Miami final

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Fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan advanced to her fourth final this season, dispatching 27th-seeded Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (2) at the Miami Open on Thursday in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Her opponent in the final on Saturday will be unseeded U.S. player Danielle Collins, who upset 14th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 6-3, 6-2.

Rybakina improved to 22-3 on the season and kept alive her pursuit of a third singles title for 2024 while also improving to 4-0 against Azarenka.

Rybakina, who was a finalist in last year’s Miami Open as well, quickly fell behind by a game in the deciding set before breaking Azarenka’s serve in the fifth game and moving ahead 4-2.

She later fell behind 6-5, but she once again rallied with four straight points to draw even and then controlled the tiebreaker.

“Thank you guys for the support,” Rybakina said in addressing the crowd. “It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. It was such a tough battle. For me this tournament was a marathon from Day 1. Really happy I made it to the final.”

Rybakina recorded 11 aces and won 40 of 49 first-serve points in a match that lasted two hours and 33 minutes. But she never found the going easy against Azarenka, with the two drawing to a 3-3 tie in the first set. Rybakina got ahead 5-3, at which point Azarenka rallied to within 5-4 before Rybakina swept the 10th game to finish the set.

Azarenka, the No. 27 seed, converted on 50 percent of her break points (4 of 8) and won 16 points in a row at one point to force a third set. She dominated throughout the second, three times earning wins on four straight points to eventually win 6-0.

In the second semifinal, Collins prevailed to reach the final of a WTA 1000 event for the first time in her career. She has played in one Grand Slam final, losing the 2022 Australian Open championship match to Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

Collins got by against Alexandrova despite putting just 51 percent of her first serves in play. She fell behind by an early service break in the first set but registered breaks on Alexandrova’s next two service games. It took six set points before Collins closed out the first set before she dominated the second set, breaking early and late.

Collins, who has announced plans to retire at the end of the season, said of reaching the Miami final, “(It’s) even more special in my home state. My dad said to me when I was a kid — I wanted to come here so bad — and he’s like, ‘You’re only going if you play in the tournament. So you have to make the tournament.’ And I’ve had a couple good years here, but this is definitely the most memorable.”

Collins ran her streak of consecutive sets won to 12 since dropping the first set in the opening round against the United States’ Bernarda Pera.

–Field Level Media

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