Elena Rybakina said she was targeting the world number one ranking after the Wimbledon champion defeated Aryna Sabalenka to capture the Indian Wells crown for her first title of the season.
Rybakina, who was born in Moscow but now represents Kazakhstan, missed out on 2,000 ranking points last year after Wimbledon was penalised for banning Russian and Belarusian players in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine. Her 7-6(11) 6-4 victory over the second-ranked Sabalenka in a reversal of the Australian Open final lifted her to a career-high number seven and the 23-year-old said she was determined to push on.
“I think the biggest goal is of course to be number one,” Rybakina said. “There’s still long way to go. So this is the end goal, I’d say. “For now, I’m seven, but you know how quickly the rankings change. So I need to always focus on the next tournament I play. I’m just trying not to think so much about the rankings.”
Rybakina’s victory over Sabalenka followed her impressive win over Iga Swiatek, marking the first time a player had beaten the women’s world number one and two in the semis and final at a tournament since Garbine Muguruza in Cincinnati six years ago.
“I didn’t think about this, but good stat,” said Rybakina, who picked up her fourth career title. “I don’t know what to say. When I come to play against anyone, I try not to think about the rankings. “I just want to do my best. Yeah, in the end, try to win.”—INP