Rybakina, Putintseva Lead Kazakhstani Charge in Miami

Two Kazakhstan women are among the last eight still standing in Miami. 

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Monday, March 25, 2024

Hard Rock Stadium is looking a little like a Kazakhstani Consulate.

Elena Rybakina topped Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 to advance to the Miami Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.

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The 2023 Miami Open finalist Rybakina joins compatriot Yulia Putintseva in the quarterfinals giving Kazakhstan two of the last eight women still standing in Miami for the first time. 

Earlier, unseeded Putintseva edged Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina 6-4, 7-6(5) in two hours, 23 minutes to reach the quarterfinals for the first time in 10 Miami Open appearances.

A strong finish helped Rybakina conquer Keys and raise her 2024 record to 20-3.

Swatting a forehand winner, Keys held firm for a 5-4 second-set lead with a loud “come on!”

When Rybakina imposed the backhand crosscourt pattern it posed problems for Keys. Whacking a wild backhand wide, Keys dropped serve in the 11th game.

On match point, Rybakina pumped an ace down the T to close in one hour, 24 minutes.

Forced out of Indian Wells due to illness, Rybakina is regaining her strength, range and rhythm in Miami.

After scoring successive three-set wins over Clara Tauson and Taylor Townsend, Rybakina delivered her best performance of the tournament today.

“Unfortunately it was like eight days without anything—no fitness, no tennis so it was tough to come back,” told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “I’m still in pain after all these matches, but I’m feeling better and hopefully this extra day we have in between helps.

“So we will see how it’s gonna be in the next one.”

The next one pits the 2022 Wimbledon winner against two-time Indian Wells finalist Maria Sakkari for a semifinal spot.

Sakkari took a walkover into the quarterfinals when 22nd-seeded Anna Kalinskaya withdrew from their scheduled Grandstand meeting.

Rybakina is 2-1 lifetime vs. Sakkari with both wins coming in three sets.

“For sure it’s gonna be a tough match,” Rybakina said. “She’s confident now, she’s played well in Indian Wells. We know each other well.

“We played a couple of times. Physically, if I feel better than I will have all the chances to win so my priority is to just recover right now.”

Should Rybakina and Putintseva both prevail in the quarterfinals, they will square off in an all-Kazakhstan semifinal. 

Photo credit: Miami Open/Hard Rock Stadium 

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