Rybakina completes stunning Madrid comeback

KAZAKHSTAN Grand Slam champion Elena Rybakina had to fight back from an incredible deficit to overcome her compatriot Yulia Putintseva in a hard-fought three-set match. Rybakina face two match points at 2-5 15-40 down in the deciding set only to come back and hold, on her way to winning five consecutive games and advance to the Madrid Masters semi-finals.

In one of the matches of the tournament, the fourth seed found a way to win from the jaws of defeat, dropping the first set and winning the second set in a tiebreaker before falling a break behind and facing two match points on her next service game.

On the brink of being eliminated from the WTA 1000 Masters tournament, Rybakina produced a brilliant drop shot winner to counter that of Putintseva, before a powerful ace locked the game back at deuce. From there, Rybakina went to another level, winning 19 of the next 23 points – many of which were winners – to leave Putintseva without answers.

“I was not there with the legs definitely in the match,” Rybakina said. “She’s a tough opponent. She’s a fighter, and she was playing well. 

“In the third set it was very quick when I started to lose these three games in a row, 5-2 down. After that, I think I just didn’t have any more emotions, no frustration or nothing. I was just going for every point. Was trying to do what I supposed to do, and then whatever happens happened. I won the match, so…”

Rybakina needed two hours and 48 minutes to get the job done, serving the only six aces of the match, and winning 70 per cent of her first sere points. She also overcame incredible frustration receiving a code violation for racquet smashing, an unusual sign from the star who is one of the most calm and composed players on Tour.

By winning, she set up a quarter final clash with Aryna Sabalenka, with the Belarusian dashing the dream of giant-killer Mirra Andreeva in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. Sabalenka won 79 and 61 per cent of her first and second serve points without facing a break point all match. She broke three times during the one-hour and 19-minute clash to advance past her teenage compatriot.

The pair face off tomorrow night, or not before 5:30am Australian EST, with the other semi-final between Iga Swiatek and Madison Keys kicking off the day’s play from around midnight.

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