March 1, 2024

Top-seeded Elena Rybakina secured her second title of the season with a smooth 6-1, 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina at the Abu Dhabi Open on Sunday. The world number five, who started the year with a title in Brisbane, added a seventh trophy to her resume and is now joint-second on the match-wins leaderboard with 11 victories to her name in 2024. Light rain provided some late drama as it briefly interrupted the final game of the contest, with players instructed to wait on their benches with Rybakina leading 6-1, 5-4, 30/30.   It was only a short delay though as the 2022 Wimbledon champion closed out the win with two good serves on the 68-minute mark.

“First I want to congratulate Daria of course with a great week, congrats to you and the team,” Russian-born Kazakh Rybakina said in her victory speech. 

“Tough week, especially last matches, and tomorrow is already a match in Doha, so hopefully we both recover and we do well there and maybe play the final there.”

Rybakina struck first but double-faulted to hand Kasatkina the break back. 

Kasatkina returned the favour immediately, double-faulting to drop serve once again and the Russian failed to win another game in that set as Rybakina secured the set 6-1 in 24 minutes.

Kasatkina hit just two winners in that set, against a whopping 16 unforced errors, and her double-fault count was mounting as she struggled with the windy conditions.

The second set was a more competitive affair but Rybakina’s power game ultimately made the difference with Kasatkina clearly feeling the after effects of the taxing three-hour semi-final she played against Beatriz Haddad Maia the previous evening.

Kasatkina has now lost her last four consecutive finals –- including two this year in Adelaide and Abu Dhabi -– and remains in search of a first title triumph since 2022.

“I’m playing a lot of matches, I’m winning most of them, which is very important,” said Kasatkina, who is 10-3 win-loss so far this campaign.

“I think it’s the best start of the year for me ever. I can be just happy with that.

“Of course there are moments that are disappointing –- to lose the final is not a nice thing but as Daniil Medvedev said after the Australian Open, it’s better to play three finals than to lose three first rounds. So I will take that.”

The Russian world number 14 has a quick turnaround and will catch a late flight Sunday from Abu Dhabi to Doha, where she is due to face her compatriot and good friend Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the first round of the Qatar Open on Monday.

“Right now I’m a bit disappointed of course. But sometimes being upset can help you maybe more than being super happy,” said Kasatkina.

“That’s what happened two years ago when I lost in the semi-finals from match point to Ons (Jabeur) in Rome. I really believe that match made me play semi-final at Roland Garros.

“So I will think this way, thinking that these losses in the finals they will just make me better and will push me to grow.”

Seeded number three in Doha, Rybakina has a first-round bye and kicks off her draw there against Varvara Gracheva or Zhu Lin in round two.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Topics mentioned in this article

Elena Rybakina
Daria Kasatkina


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