Elena Rybakina (10th seed) and Aryna Sabalenka (Second seed) will for the second time this season face off in a final when they duel in the deciding match at the Indian Wells Open on Sunday on an outdoor hard court. Sabalenka beat Rybakina in three sets to win the Australian Open earlier in the season and in so doing extended her head-to-head advantage in this fixture to 4-1. Elena Rybakina relinquished her first set lead to lose that final in Melbourne 6-4, 3-6, 4-6 and will replay this in the back of her head before serving off on Sunday. The Kazakh served off in California ranked 10th in the world but advancing to the final has seen her move up to eighth in the live ranking which is a new career high for her. She struggled to build on from that final and only managed three wins in her next two tournaments (Abu Dhabi and Dubai). It has however been a different case here where she has dropped just one set in her five matches and has defeated the last two champions which should boost her confidence even more. She beat 2021 champion Paula Badosa in straight sets in the third round and last year’s champion Iga Swiatek was also dealt the same fate in the semifinals.
Aryna Sabalenka is playing in only her second tournament since winning the Australian Open. She suffered her first loss of the season by going down 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the Dubai Open to eventual champion Barbora Krejcikova before arriving in California. She would however avenge this in the fourth round, beating the Czech also in three sets. This was the only match that has seen her relinquish a set at Indian Wells. The Belarussian also won it all in Adelaide and is the outright favourite to end up on top again here. Winning will however not see her ascend to the top of the world ranking but will tighten her grip on second place as well as her hold on the number one spot in the live race standings.
Aryna Sabalenka has the head-to-head advantage in her favour as well as the best record this season coming into this match. Rybakina hasn’t performed to her liking in tour finals but will be buoyed by the fact that she overcame the last two champions here to reach this stage. It will be another mouthwatering clash and we predict that Elena Rybakina v Aryna Sabalenka will end in a win for Sabalenka.