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Sabalenka faces Kudermetova in Abu Dhabi Open final

rituraj@khaleejtimes.com Filed on January 12, 2021
Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus hits a forehand return to Maria Sakkari of Greece during their semifinal on Tuesday. (WTA Twitter)

Sabalenka will rise to a career high-high ranking of seven with a victory in Wednesday’s final

Fourth seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus stormed into the final of the inaugural WTA Abu Dhabi Open with a straight set (6-3 6-2) win over her Greek rival Maria Sakkari on Tuesday.

In what was her 14th straight win on the Tour, Sabalenka was in unstoppable form, hitting eight aces against the hapless Sakkari to set up a final clash with unseeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova.

Having finished the pandemic-hit 2020 season with back-to-back titles in Ostrava and Linz, the world number 10 will be aiming for her eighth career title on Wednesday.

This was her fourth win in last five matches against Sakkari with two of those victories coming in Dubai and Doha.

“I’m really looking forward to this final,” Sabalenka said after her emphatic semifinal victory on Monday.

“I’m just focusing on the right things. This helps me to, first of all, not think about all these wins, and secondly, to keep winning. I think I just need to keep focusing on my game, keep focusing on the movement on the court, and try to do everything I can in the moment. I think this works really well,” added Sabalenka who would rise to a career high-high ranking of seven with a victory in Wednesday’s final.

In the second semifinal between two unseeded players, Kudermetova beat Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk 7-6 (10/8), 6-4.

The 23-year-old Russian took one hour and 40 minutes to overcome the Ukrainian teenager and reach the first WTA singles final of her career.

“I think it was a really tough match today,” Kudermetova said after the match. “I think we were a little bit nervous. It was really tough, but I tried to be focused until the end. I think I have a little bit more experience than Marta,” she added.

“She’s really young, she’s 18. Today, I think it was the key, [that] I really have a little bit more experience than her.”

Kudermetova, who stunned second seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals for her fifth win over a top 10 player, now faces Sabalenka, who is on an amazing 14-match unbeaten run.

“We’re friendly, and I think it’s a really interesting and fun match tomorrow,” said Kudermetova.

The Ukrainian said all the pressure would be on Sabalenka in Wednesday’s final.

“I think she’ll have a little bit more pressure than me because she’s supposed to win tomorrow,” the Russian said.

“She’s stayed Top 10, she’s already won two tournaments in a row. Tomorrow, I’ll play free, I’ll try to play relaxed and try to enjoy my final.”

author

Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.





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