Rybakina wins three-set thriller to reach Miami final

Fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina was pushed to the limit before beating veteran Victoria Azarenka in a third-set tiebreaker in the semi-finals of the Miami Open.

Rybakina, ranked fourth on the WTA Tour, was force-fed a "bagel" in the second set, but bounced back to beat the Belarusian 27th seed 6-4 0-6 7-6 (7-2) on Thursday (Friday AEDT).

In the final Rybakina will face unseeded American Danielle Collins, who beat No.14 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, of Russia, 6-3 6-2 in the other semi.

Rybakina also made last year's final before losing in straight sets to Petra Kvitova.

A day off will no doubt be welcome for Rybakina, who has been pushed to three sets in all but one match this tournament.

Her semi-final lasted two hours and 33 minutes.

"It was such a tough battle," Rybakina, a Moscow-born Kazakh, said after reaching her fourth final of the year.

Victoria Azarenka (left) and Elena Rybakina
Victoria Azarenka (left) and Elena Rybakina shake hands after their Miami Open semi-final. (AP PHOTO)

"I didn't serve that well and also Vika, from the second set, she was hitting the serve very well.

"It was difficult, but I knew I was going to fight until the end and actually that's what I did."

Rybakina appeared to take control when she broke Azarenka's serve to take a 3-2 lead in the third set.

Azarenka fought off four break points before hitting a two-handed backhand into the net to give Rybakina the game.

It was quite a response after the second set when Azarenka lost only two points on her serve - and one of those came from a double fault.

But Azarenka wasn't done. With Rybakina serving for the match, the Belarusian broke back to even the final set at 5-5.

Both players then held serve to send the match to a tiebreaker, which belonged to Rybakina, who went up 6-1.

She wrapped up the victory with a cross-court forehand.

Rybakina, 24, is seeking her third title this year. She is 4-0 in her career against Azarenka, including two victories this year.

Azarenka, 34, was trying to become the tournament's oldest winner. She became the second-oldest semi-finalist - 36-year-old Venus Williams made the semis in 2017.