Elena Rybakina brushed aside the world No.1 in a clinical display when she played Iga Sviatek last time out, and the Wimbledon champion said she needed to be aggressive again when she took pole at the Indian Wells Open.
Rybakina and Swiatek met in the fourth round of this year’s Australian Open and although the latter was the favorite heading into the match, it was the former who won 6-4 6-4 to end in a 1-1 draw. Competition in their heads.
The pair will meet again on Friday when they play in the semifinals in California.
Rybakina made it to the last four with a 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-4 win over Karolina Muchova, while Switek cruised past Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3.
World No. 10 Rybakina, though, knows she’s in for a tough challenge in California.
“It will definitely be different from Australia. We played several times before a game in Australia. It will definitely be a tough match,” she said.
“Obviously there are things that I do as a competitor, preparing for each opponent, but overall my game is to be aggressive. As I said, it’s not easy here, but I still have to stick to this game plan, and then try to prepare, to think about what we can do here with my coaches.
When asked what challenges she will face in defeating the three-time Grand Slam champion, Rybakina said that she will have to manage her physical abilities.
“Obviously Iga is a great fighter, she moves very well on the court. I personally think she is one of the best right now,” said the Kazakhstani player. “It’s not easy with her, because you feel that every point is going to be difficult. She is also very consistent.
“When I went to play with her in Australia, I knew I had nothing to lose. She is number 1 and the pressure is on her at that moment.
“I knew the game plan, I knew how to play, and in the end I did well. So we’ll see how tomorrow goes, but if I’m physically ready I think I have a chance. We will see,” he said.
Swiatek knows she needs to be in better shape, too.
“She is playing really well and in the semi-finals you always play against great players so I will be ready,” said the top seed.
“The last time we played was in Australia. Completely different situations. So I will do the same preparation as any other match and give it 100 percent.
Mats Wilander recently admitted Players with a certain style always trouble Swiatek. And Rybakina is one of them.
“Obviously there’s a style of player that you have to watch on certain fast-heavy pitches, and those players are very consistent and hit the ball hard on both sides. This is her concern.”
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