Rybakina sets up Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open showdown with Kasatkina

Wimbledon champion snaps winless streak against Samsonova as Kasatkina outlasts Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in three-set epic

By Team KT

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Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan hits a return against Russia's Liudmila Samsonova during the women's singles semi-final match at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. - AFP
Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan hits a return against Russia's Liudmila Samsonova during the women's singles semi-final match at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. - AFP

Published: Sat 10 Feb 2024, 11:12 PM

Wimbledon Champion Elena Rybakina needed three sets to overcome Liudmila Samsonova to book her spot in Sunday’s sold-out final of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, finally breaking her winless streak over her Russian opponent.

With the threat of adverse weather conditions on Sunday, the doubles final at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open on Sunday 11 February will now begin at noon (midday), with the singles final scheduled as planned for 5 pm.

World No. 5 Rybakina, the Russian-born Kazakhstani professional has settled her record against Samsonova with a hard-fought 6-0 4-6 6-2 victory.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion, who had lost the previous four encounters against her opponent, now faces an enticing showdown against Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, as she aims to secure her second WTA 500 title of the season in Abu Dhabi.

Russia's Daria Kasatkina reacts after winning the women's singles semi-final match against Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia. - AFP
Russia's Daria Kasatkina reacts after winning the women's singles semi-final match against Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia. - AFP

In Saturday’s first semifinal, Daria Kasatkina clinched her spot in the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open final after a three-set thriller against Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The match, a gripping battle lasting nearly three hours, concluded with Kasatkina prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2).

The World No. 14 surged into a one-set lead and held a break advantage in the second set, before facing a resilient comeback from the Brazilian, who pushed her to a third-set tie-break.

Despite the fervent support of the Abu Dhabi crowd, Haddad Maia fell at the final hurdle in a valiant attempt to stage a comeback, having spent an astonishing 13-plus hours on court during the tournament.

Kasatkina now stands on the brink of glory as she prepares to take on the formidable Rybakina in what promises to be an eagerly awaited final, particularly given their previous encounter – a three-set marathon in Montreal last year lasting three hours and 27 minutes.

Kasatkina will be hoping to be on the right side of history this Sunday, with a full-capacity crowd expected for the sold-out finals day.

American duo Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands secured their spot in the doubles final following a walkover, and are set to take on Linda Noskova and Heather Watson in the showdown. The latter advanced directly to the championship match due to a walkover in the semi-finals, with their opponents Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera withdrawing due to injury.

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