Elena Rybakina is in the final in Miami despite losing to Victoria Azarenka tennis

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina overcame a second-set defeat on Thursday to beat Belarusian Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 0-6, 7-6 (2) and secure a return to the Miami Open final.

Rybakina, the highest seed in the women’s draw, won nearly 82% of her first serve points but converted just two of her 11 break point chances en route to victory in two hours and 33 minutes.

“It was such a hard fight,” Rybakina, a Moscow-born Kazakh, said during her on-court interview after reaching her fourth final of the year. “I didn’t serve so well and Vika also hit her serve very well from the second set onwards. It was difficult, but I knew I would fight until the end and that’s exactly what I did.”

In the opening set, Rybakina missed her first five break point chances before breaking Azarenka’s serve to take a 4-3 lead. She leaned on her amazing strength before closing the 51-minute set with a service game to win.

However, Azarenka refused to leave quietly and produced a flawless performance in the second set, limiting Rybakina to five points and breaking her serve three times to force a decider.

After an outfit change, Rybakina started the third set much better, coming down on her fifth attempt in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead when Azarenka fired a backhand into the net. However, Rybakina failed in her first chance to tie the game as Azarenka got a break to make it 5-5 after blocking a drop shot before her opponent sent a backhand volley into the net.

Rybakina stayed in the game but managed to force the tiebreak, winning the first three points before securing the win. Rybakina, a title winner in Brisbane, Abu Dhabi and Doha this year, will next face either American Danielle Collins or Russian No. 14 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Meanwhile, German number four seed Alexander Zverev overcame difficult conditions to beat Hungarian Fabian Marozsan 6-3, 7-5 and reach the men’s semi-finals.

Zverev attacked Marozsan’s serve and converted three of his seven break point chances, brushing aside the two break points he faced and winning 80% of his first serve points en route to the last four in Miami, where he has yet to drop a set .

Although Zverev didn’t lose a set in the windy conditions, he had his hands full with Marozsan, who is making his Miami debut and pulled off upsets in the top 10 against Holger Rune and Alex de Minaur en route to the quarterfinals.

“If he keeps playing like this, he will rise in the rankings very quickly and be one of those (top 10) players himself,” Zverev said in his on-court interview.

“I think all top players, when they have control, feel like they can manage the game and manipulate the game a little bit in their favor. But that’s not possible against him. That’s why he has such a great top-10 record and is an incredible player.”

Zverev’s victory, sealed with a break when he unleashed a brilliant backhand down the line, marked his return to the semifinals of the Miami Open for the first time since his runner-up finish in 2018.

Zverev will next face either number 1 seeded Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz or number 11 seed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.

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