Rybakina returns to Miami final, to face Collins

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Fourth seed Elena Rybakina has advanced to the Miami Open final for the second year in a row with a gutsy 6-4 0-6 7-6(2) victory over Victoria Azarenka, setting up a showdown against unseeded American Danielle Collins, who upset 14th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-2.

Elena Rybakina

Last year, Petra Kvitova, currently on pregnancy leave, halted Rybakina’s quest for the Sunshine Double, preventing her from capturing consecutive titles in Indian Wells and Miami. Now, Rybakina aims to seize the Miami title as the favorite against former Australian Open runner-up Collins, who is playing her last season on the Hologic WTA Tour.

In Thursday’s semifinals, Rybakina took the first set with a single break but struggled in the second, only winning five points and losing 16 in a row to three-time Miami Open champion Azarenka.

The world No.4 seemed to take control by breaking Azarenka’s serve for a 3-2 lead in the decider and faced no break points until she served for the match at 5-4. Rybakina saved one break point with an ace, but Azarenka converted her second one to even the set at 5-5. Both women then held serve to push the set into a tiebreaker, which the Kazakhstani dominated, racing to a commanding 6-1 lead.

In the other semifinal, Collins required six set points to secure the first set against Russia’s Alexandrova before asserting dominance in the second set.

Rybakina will enjoy the day off before Saturday’s final, as all but one of her matches in Miami were three-setters. Rybakina holds a 3-1 lead over Collins in their career meetings, with the American winning only their first encounter back in 2021. However, all three matches that Rybakina won, including the one this year, were three-setters.

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