The final of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells will be a rematch of this year’s Australian Open final. After two weeks of riveting tennis in the California desert, it comes down to a one-match shootout between second seed Aryna Sabalenka and 10th seed Elena Rybakina. As always, we here at LWOT will be offering our prediction for the final. But who will come out on top?
WTA Indian Wells Final Prediction
Aryna Sabalenka vs Elena Rybakina
Head-to-head: Sabalenka 4-0 Rybakina
Aryna Sabalenka reached her first final at Indian Wells with another dominant victory. The second-seeded Belarusian needed 83 minutes to secure her 17th win in 18 matches this season by beating Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-3. The Athenian had a stranglehold in the head-to-head in recent matches (beating Sabalenka twice in successive WTA Finals in the past couple of years), but it was Sabalenka who came into the match hot on the heels of a career-best start to a season. And that reflected on how well she played despite a momentary duress of coughing up five double faults in the match. She still won a healthy 72% first-serve points and converted five of her 10 break points.
Elena Rybakina, for her part, was compelled to adapt to the slow-playing conditions in Indian Wells. She reiterated just how difficult it was to cope with the windy conditions at times, which affected the trajectory of her shots. Having scraped the opening two rounds here, she has dealt with conditions well enough to mount a title challenge this week. Rybakina produced another scintillating straight-sets win over world #1 Iga Swiatek in the semifinal, winning 6-2 6-2 to end the Pole’s title defense. It was the best performance she has put together this year and one that serves notice she might just solve the Sabalenka puzzle at long last.
Sabalenka owns Rybakina in this matchup, winning four matches without reply. But it is imperative to note that all four previous meetings have gone to a deciding set. To be able to get a result against Sabalenka, the Kazakh will need to withstand a barrage of pressure, add a bit of variation in her game to disrupt her opponent’s rhythm, and look to tee off on the Belarusian’s second serve. Very few players can match Sabalenka in terms of pace and aggression from the back of the court and Rybakina belongs in that gaudy category. While the head-to-head record will weigh heavily on Rybakina’s mind, she has been devastatingly clinical in the past two matches and will draw plenty of confidence and belief from the fact she has pushed Sabalenka to her absolute limits each time in those previous bouts. This will likely be the Kazakh’s time to conquer Sabalenka.
Prediction: Rybakina in 3
Main Photo Credit: Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY NETWORK