Dominant Sabalenka rolls into Indian Wells final

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INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Aryna Sabalenka defeated Maria Sakkari 6-2, 6-3 on Friday to move into the BNP Paribas Open final.

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, improved to 17-1 this year. She will be seeking her 13th career title in Sunday’s final against the winner of the other semifinal between top-ranked Iga Swiatek or 10th-seeded Elena Rybakina.

“It’s going to be huge,” said Sabalenka, who won the doubles title in the desert in 2019. “This tournament feels like a Grand Slam. I really want to hold this trophy as a singles champion.”

Sabalenka took control against Sakkari, seeded seventh, from the start. She attacked the Greek’s second serve, winning 20 of 26 points off it. Sakkari, runner-up in last year’s final, fell to 3-5 in her career against Sabalenka.

Sakkari reached the semifinals by rallying from a set down three times and going 4-0 in deciding sets.

But Sabalenka was too dominant. She won the final three games, including two services, to take the first set, 6-2.

Sabalenka led 2-0 in the second before Sakkari tied it 2-all. From there, Sabalenka won four of the final five games to close out the match in 1 1/2 hours.

“Just super happy right now,” Sabalenka said on court. “Maria’s such a great player and I knew it was going to be tough.”

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