Brilliant Sabalenka wins WTA Abu Dhabi Open title
The 22-year-old Belarusian will rise to a career high ranking of seven on the back of her latest triumph
Continuing her dream run on the WTA Tour, Aryna Sabalenka produced another majestic performance to win the Abu Dhabi Open title on Wednesday.
The fourth seed outplayed the unseeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 6-2 in the final to clinch her third straight title on the Tour, following her back-to-back triumphs in Ostrava and Linz last year.
“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning, and I’m really happy to start this season with a title,” Sabalenka said in the post-match press conference.
“Every final is really something special, and I would say, finals are a different competition. This final was really nice, and I would say a really fast game.” The emphatic win also gave Sabalenka a great confidence boost ahead of the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam — where she would be hoping to make a deep run, having never gone beyond the round of 16 in any of the Slams in the past.
“I came here to play some matches after one month of just preparation. I played six matches and it’s really important and I’m really happy I could play that long and to win this title,” Sabalenka said.
“I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with only one thing, that I’ll do everything I can to win matches and that’s the only confidence I have right now.” Sabalenka also extended her unbeaten run to 15 matches.
“I’m really happy to keep winning, and I’ll do everything I can to keep winning!” Sabalenka said. “Nobody likes to lose!”
Sabalenka was too strong for her Russian rival on Wednesday, hitting 18 winners and converting six of the 12 break points she earned in the match.
“In the first two games of her serve, I was trying to see what she was doing on her serve. Then, I don’t know, I just felt where she was serving, and I was just following my feelings, and it worked really well. I also put a lot of pressure on her in my service games.” The 22-year-old Belarusian will rise to a career high ranking of seven on the back of her latest triumph.
“I’m really proud that I was fighting no matter what,” said Sabalenka. “Some matches, I didn’t feel my serve, some matches I didn’t feel my forehand or backhand, but I would just keep fighting, finding my shots, and that this is what I’m really proud of, and really happy with this title.”
The 23-year-old Kudermetova, on the other hand, looked on the bright side after the defeat, having reached her first career final.
“Now I have confidence, I beat good players here in Abu Dhabi and I feel OK before Australia,” said the Russian who stunned second seed and world number five Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals.
(4) Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) beat Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-2 6-2
(5) Ena Shibahara (JPN)/Shuko Aoyama (JPN) beat (8) Luisa Stefani (BRA)/Hayley Carter (US) 7-6 (7/5) 6-4.
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