Rybakina cruises past Kasatkina to claim Abu Dhabi title

Both players will now head to Doha for the Qatar Open, with Kasatkina set to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her opener on Monday

By Reuters

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Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan kisses the trophy after winning the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open final on Sunday. — AFP
Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan kisses the trophy after winning the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open final on Sunday. — AFP

Published: Sun 11 Feb 2024, 9:14 PM

Top seed Elena Rybakina powered to a 6-1 6-4 win over Russian Daria Kasatkina in the final of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open on Sunday to lift her second trophy of the season and seventh overall.

"I was coming to this week without expectations because I had some issues in Melbourne, so we needed some time to get back on court," Rybakina said after winning the final.

"I was just trying to get as many matches as I can. Really proud about this week. With every match I felt more confident."

The 2022 Wimbledon champion began the contest on Stadium Court in typically dominant fashion to grab an early break, but seventh seed Kasatkina struck back with one of her own only to fall behind again in blustery conditions.

Rybakina regained composure to go 5-1 up on the back of big serving as Kasatkina struggled for consistency and the 24-year-old Brisbane champion wrapped up the opening set in 25 minutes when her opponent sent a forehand wide.

The pair had come into the contest having split their four meetings - all on hardcourts - and Adelaide runner-up Kasatkina showed plenty of fight to pull two breaks back in the next set with relentless baseline hitting and stunning winners.

Level at 4-4, Rybakina turned the heat up to break the 26-year-old Kasatkina with a crosscourt scorcher and the Moscow-born Kazakh returned after a brief rain delay to secure the victory on serve.

Both players will now head to Doha for the Qatar Open, with Kasatkina set to face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her opener on Monday while Rybakina has a bye into the second round.

"A tough week, especially the last matches, and tomorrow is already a match in Doha (for Kasatkina)," Rybakina said.

"Hopefully we both recover and do well there and maybe play final there.

"I want to thank all the fans who came to support us. It's been an amazing atmosphere and especially to see the flags from Kazakhstan it really means a lot."

Kasatkina, who came through a gruelling semifinal against Beatriz Haddad Maia on Saturday that lasted nearly three hours, was disappointed with the loss but remained upbeat about her form early in the season.

"Did I have enough in the tank for the final? I squeezed everything that I had left and it wasn't enough against a player like Elena ... you have to be at your best to have a chance to beat her," Kasatkina said.

"Unfortunate that the tournament ended this way but there's a lot of positives in the week. There's nothing to be sad about but of course it's always disappointing to lose in a final."

Earlier in the day, Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands took home the doubles title, defeating Linda Noskova and Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6(4) in the final.

The title is Mattek-Sands' 29th career doubles title and first since 2023 Seoul. It is just the third doubles title for Kenin and the first since she won 2019 Beijing with Mattek-Sands.

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