The WTA 1000 tournament in Indian Wells finished this weekend and I was delighted to celebrate title number 15 for Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the women’s doubles. Following on from winning the 2023 Australian Open title, this cemented them even more firmly as the undisputed number one team, and giving them an 11-0 record this year,
The women’s singles champion was Elena Rybakina who defeated Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets for her first WTA1000 level title.
For Krejcikova and Siniakova expectations were very very high. Undoubtedly the number one pair, they were expected to cruise to this title, but the final ended up being a very tense affair. Playing the German Laura Siegemund and Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, the Czechs started very very well and took the first set 6-1. An one-sided and slightly disappointing final looked to be on the cards with the Czechs being simply too good. However, the match did not turn out to be quite so straightforward
One of the technical weaknesses over the years for Katerina Siniakova has been her serve. However, in recent times that serve has been a lot more consistent. Indeed, in the semi-final, she probably served better than Barbora. Siniakova’s best shot by a mile is her backhand – crosscourt, especially. An unorthodox looking shot, Siniakova throws herself into it but she gets great power and accuracy. Her forehand is slightly less reliable, but again, like the serve has been pretty good lately.
Sadly in set 2 things started to fall apart for Siniakova, and as is often the case with her, the more mistakes she made, the worse her attitude was. I love watching Siniakova, but the way she berates herself and gets so negative and annoyed at herself on court cannot be good. This is a title that Barbora Krejcikova really had to step up and win for the team. Haddad Maia and Siegmund had set points in the second set which the Czechs did save well and indeed they battled back to have two championship points at 6-5. But once again Siniakova was the one making the errors. Two shots at the net, she would usually make in her sleep, she missed. Before you knew it, we were into a match tiebreak. The 10 point match tiebreaks are a bit of a lottery, but thankfully Siniakova played a little better and critically, regained some composure, especially at the net. Krejcikova’s control was especially evident in a lovely return winner over Siegemund‘s head on match point. So, a big title once again for the Czechs, but as Krejcikova said herself in her winners speech, this was quite stressful.
After the match the Czechs also managed to meet the pop star Pink, who has been at the tennis all week (Hope you get that reference in in the title of this article!)
The women’s singles final was a rematch of the Australian Open final between Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka. Sabalenka has been playing really well and indeed was the one who put out Krejcikova in the fourth round. She appeared to have the edge and indeed led the head-to-head 4-0 going into the match. Sabalenka was probably the favourite for many people, but the way Rybakina beat world number 1, Iga Swiatek the other day was incredibly impressive.
This match was all about the first set and sadly ended up being all about Aryna Sabalenka’s serve and the return of her double fault habit. She served 10 double faults in that first set including three in the tiebreak. Conditions were not easy. It was very breezy and the slow courts made putting away the winning shots difficult for both players. But it was those double faults and Rybakina’s greater consistency that won her the first set after an hour and 20 minutes after both players had set points, 13-11.
Sabalenka came out, looking quite dejected for the second set, and to be honest it was a bit of a foregone conclusion. Rybakina served for the title at 5-2, but Sabalenka fought and got back to 5-4. However, for cool, calm and collected Elena Rybakina, there was no difficulty serving out the match to take the biggest title of her career since Wimbledon.
This really does make the WTA tour quite interesting at the moment. Sabalenka was the form player of the year with a Grand Slam title, and also winning the title in Adelaide. Elena Rybakina has now beaten Iga Świątek twice. And with this WTA1000 title is one of the most in form players. You can never count out Iga Świątek who has had a lot of wins including the Doha title. She made the final in Dubai and the semifinals here in Indian Wells losing to Rybakina.
For many tennis watchers, the seemingly impregnable Iga Świątek looks a little vulnerable at the moment. Her losses have been heavy ones and she has that ridiculously impressive 37 match winning run from last year to live up to. With her, Sabalenka , Rybakina – and I would put Barbara Krejcikova in there as well after her Dubai title and the close match she lost to Sabalenka in the 4th round here, there are some intriguing match up at the top of the game right now.
Roll on Miami!