Home » Sports world daily: Rybakina to face Sabalenka in Indian Wells final, Newcastle beat Forest

Sports world daily: Rybakina to face Sabalenka in Indian Wells final, Newcastle beat Forest

Elena Rybakina came up with a strong straight-sets win over defending champion Iga Swiatek to set up the Indian Wells final against Aryna Sabalenka.

In the Premier League, Newcastle United took another step closer to a Champions League spot after beating Nottingham Forest 2-1.

Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 18 March, 2023:

Rybakina to face Sabalenka in final

Elena Rybakina again proved too much for world number one Iga Swiatek, denying the defending champion a return to the Indian Wells final with an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 semi-final victory on Friday.

Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion who stunned top-seeded Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open on the way to the final, will now get a chance to turn the tables on Aryna Sabalenka, who beat her in Melbourne to capture a first Grand Slam title.

World number two Sabalenka advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over seventh-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Elena Rybakina again proved too much for world number one Iga Swiatek, denying the defending champion a return to the Indian Wells final with an emphatic 6-2, 6-2 semi-final victory on Friday.

Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion who stunned top-seeded Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open on the way to the final, will now get a chance to turn the tables on Aryna Sabalenka, who beat her in Melbourne to capture a first Grand Slam title.

World number two Sabalenka advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over seventh-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

Rybakina, ranked 10th in the world, was all over Swiatek from the opening game, painting the lines with her punishing ground strokes and serving with pinpoint precision.

Swiatek, winner of the French and US Opens last year in a campaign that included eight titles in all, simply had no answer and surrendered the first set with a double-fault on the first set point.

It was more of the same in the second as Rybakina raced to a 5-0 lead. Swiatek, who revealed after the match she was dealing with “discomfort” in her ribcage, finally managed a hold for 5-1, and pounced to break as Rybakina suddenly struggled with her first serve in the next game.

Rybakina still managed to muster two match points at 40-15, but Swiatek saved one with an overhead and another with a blistering return of a second serve, winning two more points to complete the break for 5-2.

But there would be no comeback. A mis-hit as Swiatek appeared to trip chasing a ball back to the baseline gave Rybakina another match point and she converted it with confidence.

Newcastle United beat Nottingham Forest

Alexander Isak said Newcastle believe they will seal a place in next season’s Champions League after the Swede scored twice, including a stoppage time penalty, to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 on Friday.

Victory lifts the Magpies to within one point of fourth-placed Tottenham and with a game in hand to come on Spurs.

“We believe and we know that we have it in our own hands and have a good chance,” said Isak after Newcastle signed off for the international break with back-to-back wins.

“It is important we have gone into this break with a good feeling with two wins from two games.”

Defeat was Forest’s first at home in the league since September and leaves Steve Cooper’s men still two points above the relegation zone.

“It’s always the worst way to lose, in the last couple of minutes, having fought in the game,” said Cooper. “We made some poor football decisions around the build-up to the goals and that’s something we can only blame ourselves for.”

Newcastle ended a near two-month wait for a Premier League win last weekend in beating Wolves and came flying out the blocks at the City Ground. But it was Forest who scored first through Emmanuel Dennis after a defensive error. Isak then equalised in first half stoppage time before finding the winner in the 93rd minute.

With text inputs from AFP

Updated through the day