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Miami Open women's final preview: Rybakina eyes historic Sunshine Double

Only four women have won both the WTA Indian Wells and Miami Open in the same season, known as the 'Sunshine Double', but on Saturday Elena Rybakina bids to become the fifth.

Polish sensation Iga Swiatek managed the feat in 2022, sparking an exceptional run on the WTA tour which saw her claim top spot in the world rankings and she still remains there today. 

For many, Kazakhstani ace Rybakina could be set for a similar trajectory to Swiatek but she will have work to do in the final of the Miami Open with experienced talent Petra Kvitova standing in her way in Florida.

WhatElena Rybakina vs Petra Kvitova, WTA Miami final
WhereHard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida, USA
When20:00, Saturday 1st April 2023
How to watchbet365’s Sports Live Streaming / Amazon Prime
OddsElena Rybakina 4/11, Petra Kvitova 11/5

Rybakina looks fresher after early-round struggles

While Rybakina's title triumph at Indian Wells last month was largely effortless - she dropped only one set in her six matches - she has had a tougher time of it in Miami. 

It looked at one stage like the 23-year-old could be facing an early exit as she was taken to three sets in each of her first two matches in Miami by Anna Kalinskaya and Paula Badosa. 

Fatigue probably played a role in that, though, as Rybakina has gone from strength to strength in the tournament's latter stages as the schedule became less relentless than in the early rounds. 

The quick turnaround between Indian Wells and the Miami Open makes winning the 'Sunshine Double' all the more impressive and Rybakina seems to be on top of any earlier fitness issues now and looks ready to make her mark once again.

Kvitova counting on experience in Florida final 

This is not Kvitova's first rodeo and if she managed to defy expectations and beat Rybakina in the Miami Open final, it will likely be her added experience which gets her over the line. 

The 33-year-old will be playing in her 13th WTA 1000 final on Saturday, whereas it will only be Rybakina's second at this level, although she has of course got some valuable Grand Slam experience under her belt too. 

It will also be Kvitova's 267th match at this level with 176 wins in WTA 1000 events to her name and a win in this final could see her return to the top 10 in the WTA rankings. 

Her best years may be behind her but that is something Kvitova is not afraid to use to her advantage with many suggesting she has nothing left to prove and that makes her a dangerous opponent.

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Adaptability and mental resilience key to the rise of Rybakina 

Despite Kvitova's experience, Rybakina is 4/11 to win this final for a reason. The tournament 10th seed is a real talent who is arguably still not getting the attention she deserves. 

Last year Rybakina raised plenty of eyebrows by winning Wimbledon but with ranking points not awarded for the Grand Slam in 2022, her victory became somewhat overlooked. 

But coming into 2023, Rybakina has looked like a player with a purpose, breezing through to the final of the Australian Open in which she had a one-set lead over Aryna Sabalenka before succumbing to defeat. 

Once again, though, she has picked herself up and has excelled on the USA hard courts and her mental resilience and adaptability have been superb. 

Rybakina is renowned for her strong serve but she has had to dig deeper in Miami, improving her net play and defensive abilities to string together a 13-match winning streak.

Expect a tight contest but Rybakina should come through 

Rybakina's runs at Indian Wells and the Miami Open have featured wins over the likes of Swiatek, Sabalenka and Jessica Pegula, who she sank in straight sets last time out, and, if she is at her best, she should run out a comfortable winner over Kvitova. 

But Kvitova's experience should not be dismissed and she should be feeling good mentally after coming from 5-2 down in the first set of her semi-final with Sorana Cirstea to win 7-5 6-4. 

A 2-1 win for Rybakina looks the way to play it at 12/5, while for those expecting a little more dominance for Rybakina in her winning sets, another good bet could be the Kazakhstani talent to cover her games handicap of -3.5 at 4/5.

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