2023 finalist and No.4 seed Elena Rybakina booked a return trip to the Miami Open semifinals with a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4 win over No.8 seed Maria Sakkari in Tuesday night's quarterfinals. 

The 2 hour, 48-minute affair marked the third three-set win in four matches played so far in the tournament for the No.4 seed, who is the highest-ranked player remaining in the tournament after World No.1 Iga Swiatek was upset on Monday night by Ekaterina Alexandrova in the Round of 16. It was also Rybakina's third win in four career matches against Sakkari, but it did not come easily -- and more than a full hour passed by between her first two match points, and the eventual fifth and final one that won her the match.

"I have no words because I'm so tired. But I'm really happy with the win. It was such a tough battle," Rybakina said afterwards. "I got a little bit lucky with new balls, so it was easier to serve it out ... now, I just need to recover."

Rybakina won the first set despite losing a 4-2 lead, and rallied from that deficit in the second set to earn herself two match points in the 10th game -- but she failed to convert. A missed backhand in the net cost her the first, and a Sakkari down-the-line forehand was too much for her to handle on the second -- and a half-hour later, Indian Wells runner-up Sakkari forced a final set. 

"It was really tough," Rybakina said. "I had two match points and couldn't close it out but I was just thinking to keep on fighting for every point. I knew the third would be really tough." 

Rybakina scored what was the decisive break of the final set in the seventh game, a game in which a pair of punishing forehand winners helped her race out to a 0-40 lead -- but also where she didn't break serve until her fourth chance in the game.

She had two more chances to win the match, her third and fourth match points overall, in the ninth game before Sakkari escaped once more after five deuces.

"She had more energy, she was serving much better in the beginning of the third, but I was just thinking to play point-by-point," Rybakina said. I was a little bit lucky to finish the match with new balls."

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In the hopes of advancing to the final at Hard Rock Stadium for the second year in a row, Rybakina will next need to knock off three-time tournament champion and former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka, who defeated another Kazakh, Yulia Putintseva, in a three-set quarterfinal earlier Tuesday.

Rybakina is 3-0 against Azarenka all-time, including a straight-sets win in the semifinals of last year's Australian Open, where Azarenka is also a two-time winner. The Adelaide and Abu Dhabi champion is also 3-0 in semifinal matches in 2024 so far. 

"Now I don't think it's going to be easier physically, because with every match I get back in shape but at the same time it became tough to recover," Rybakina said. "For sure these tough matches help in the long run, but it's not easy to recover even though we have this extra day."

"After yesterday's match I felt a little bit the ankle and everything is kind of inflamed. We try to go through all these uncomfortable muscle pains, but the most important is to try and recover and hopefully I'm going to feel better."