I’ll make sure it was the last one”: Cheeky Sabalenka interrupts Rybakina’s Indian Wells speech

The Kazakh took the banter in stride, responding, "no, no, no. We see next time," on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open.

Aryna Sabalenka didn’t come out on top of the BNP Paribas Open women’s singles final on Sunday, falling to Elena Rybakina, 7-6 (11), 6-4.

But that didn’t stop her from continuing to entertain everyone inside Stadium 1 and those tuning in for the trophy presentation.

When it was Rybakina’s turn to take the microphone, the 2022 Wimbledon champion turned to congratulate her opponent on the “great results for this year”. Sabalenka, who edged the Kazakh for her maiden major singles crown at the Australian Open, responded by sticking out her tongue when Rybakina wasn’t looking.

But that wasn’t all. 😝

Rybakina brought up their rivalry, one where the 23-year-old finally broke into the win column after dropping four three-setters. “It’s actually [the] first time it went my way, so hopefully we’re gonna play many more finals.”

Sabalenka and Rybakina will head into Miami as No. 1 and No. 2 in the Race to the WTA Finals.

Sabalenka and Rybakina will head into Miami as No. 1 and No. 2 in the Race to the WTA Finals.

With a smile, Sabalenka then stepped up to interject a comment.

“I will make sure it was the last one,” she declared.

“No, no, no. We see next time” a beaming Rybakina replied as Sabalenka tapped her shoulder.

Rybakina then added, “It’s always been a pleasure to play against you, and always toughest battles.”

With her victory, Rybakina triumphed for the first time since becoming a major champion at 2022 Wimbledon.


What happens if a live event doesn’t have a contingency plan in place in lieu of uncooperative technology?

On Friday afternoon in Indian Wells, BNP Paribas Open organizers found out the hard way in needing to delay the women’s semifinals.

An audio issue became apparent when emcee Andrew Krasny was unable to announce Aryna Sabalenka’s entrance to the court after having no problems introducing Maria Sakkari. Soon, it became clear it was a wider technical issue, with the Hawkeye Live line calling system and chair umpire’s microphone out of commission.

As the setback was investigated, both players were consulted by a WTA supervisor. So why not adapt to traditional line calling if the issue couldn’t be resolved quickly?

The 1000-level tournament is one of the rare events on either tour that has implemented electronic line calling on every court. As Brett Haber pointed out on Tennis Channel, many chair umpires who would have been qualified to call lines had already left the venue with the tournament winding down to its final three days of competition.

“They don’t have anyone who can fix it. They have no idea what the problem is,” Sabalenka could be heard saying to her box. “They’re just trying to reboot the system.”

A little more than 30 minutes passed before sound returned inside the venue. The crowed cheered when Sabalenka and Sakkari finally took their warm up.

The Australian Open champion fittingly opened the clash with an ace out wide.

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