Line Calls 2023 IW W Final-1

On Sunday, Elena Rybakina will meet Aryna Sabalenka in the BNP Paribas Open final at Indian Wells. This will be a fitting championship matchup for the “fifth major,” as it will feature two of the last three women's major champions. Rybakina won her maiden Grand Slam at Wimbledon, while Sabalenka claimed hers at the Australian Open. And the interesting thing about the latter is that Sabalenka came back from a set down to beat Rybakina in that final Down Under.

With world No. 1 Iga Swiatek out—at the hands of Rybakina again—it now looks like the Kazakh and Sabalenka have leveled the playing field at the top of the women’s game a bit. Sure, Swiatek is the one that is the most consistent of the bunch, but these two are popping up in more and more finals. And this has the potential to turn into an exciting rivalry. But while it’s Rybakina that is coming off the more impressive of the two semi-final performances, we’re having a hard time not backing Sabalenka here.


Match Point Predictor Miami: The numbers don't lie

Match Point Predictor Miami: The numbers don't lie

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Sabalenka might not have beat Swiatek in her last match, but she did wipe the floor with world No. 7 Maria Sakkari. Sabalenka came away with a 6-2, 6-3 victory in that one, and she has dropped just one set in this entire tournament, against an in-form Barbora Krejcikova. The reality is that Sabalenka’s serve was really the only thing holding her back last year—not only was she giving away her service games, but it was also impacting her confidence elsewhere. But that’s no longer an issue.

Not only has Sabalenka stopped double-faulting as much, but the Belarusian happens to have a hold percentage of 87.2% this season. Her lone weakness has now actually become a weapon, and now it wouldn’t be surprising if she were to start competing with Swiatek a bit more for the top spot in the rankings. Sabalenka is already the second-ranked player in the world, but she has a bit more upside with the improved serve.

Nobody in the women’s game possesses her power as a ball-striker, and that’s ultimately the reason we like her a bit more than Rybakina here. Sabalenka has the strength required to hit winners anywhere, and these slow Indian Wells courts are no exception. She should have Rybakina on the move constantly, and the courts will also give her a better shot at getting some returns in.

All in all, it’s a little pricey to back Sabalenka, but sometimes it’s worth it to pay up for the right side. Sabalenka is 4-1 against Rybakina in her career, and the Belarusian should be able to make it 5-1.

Line Call: Sabalenka To Win (-155)