Iga Swiatek made a fan’s day as she walked off the court moments after a crushing defeat at the hands of Elena Rybakina in the semifinals at Indian Wells on Friday. The young fan was absolutely thrilled to receive a special souvenir from Swiatek on her way off the court.
Rybakina beat Swiatek for the second time this season, dominating proceedings from start to finish to register a 6-2, 6-2 win. Rybakina’s victory in a rematch of their 2023 Australian Open fourth-round clash thus also ended Swiatek’s title defense at Indian Wells this year.
Despite a loss that would probably be tough to digest, Swiatek gracefully fulfilled a kid’s wish, giving him her towel as a gift as she left the court to a standing ovation from the crowd.
Rybakina wasted no time in taking the lead in the first set, rushing to a 3-0 lead before a double fault from Swiatek at 2-5 gave the Kazakh star a second break and thus the set. The reigning Wimbledon champion then applied more pressure and rushed to a 5-0 lead in the second set. Swiatek got back one break of serve but it was far from enough as Rybakina broke serve again to win the match 6-2, 6-2.
The world No. 1 will now turn her focus towards the Miami Open starting next week, which she will also enter as the defending champion
Meanwhile, Rybakina will face Aryna Sabalenka in Saturday’s Indian Wells final in a rematch of the Australian Open final.
Iga Swiatek has been utterly dominant herself for a while now, but the Polish star believes she can still improve as a player as there are certain aspects of her game that she would like to focus on going forward. Swiatek opened up about the same after her loss to Rybakina on Friday.
“I would say that I can still improve as a player, and there are some like things I want to focus on,” Swiatek expressed.
Swiatek also missed out on the chance to become the first player since Martina Navratilova in 1991 to defend the women’s singles title at Indian Wells. Despite the loss, she has been in stellar form this season, having reached the semifinals or better in three of her four tournaments so far, including winning the Qatar Open title.