ABU DHABI — World No.5 Elena Rybakina defeated Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-4, the seventh seed, in the final of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, giving Rybakina her second tour win of the season.
Overall, it’s her seventh tour win and fourth on the hard courts. Rybakina, of Kazakhstan, now is 11-2 on the season while Kasatkina fell to 9-4.
Rybakina hit on 86 percent of her first serves in the first set and 76 percent for the match, also benefiting from six service breaks and nine double faults from her opponent, Reuters reported.
Tied at 4-4 in the second set, Kasatkina allowed two break points, dropping the second, to allow Rybakina to serve for the set. Rybakina finished with 17 winners and 12 unforced errors, compared to 14 and 27, respectively, for Kasatkina.
And Rybakina – while conserving her energy this week – also benefited from a first-round bye as the top seed, meaning she spent only five hours and 11 minutes on court before the final, whereas Kasatkina had eight hours and 19 minutes on court in her four previous matches.
“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 according to wtatennis. “I was just trying to get as many matches as I can. Really proud about this week. With every match I felt more confident.”
Rybakina moved to 11-2 on the season, having won her first title of the year in Brisbane last month.
She is tied with Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka for the second-most wins on tour behind Jelena Ostapenko’s tour-leading 13 wins.
Despite Sunday’s loss, Kasatkina has engineered a strong start to the season. Abu Dhabi was her second final of the nascent season.
She made her first in Adelaide in January. With a 9-4 record, Kasatkina ranks No.6 on the tour in match wins this year.
Rybakina raced through the opening set quickly, aided in part by Kasatkina’s 16 unforced errors. Kasatkina, 26, was coming off a three-hour effort to get past Beatriz Haddad Maia in the semi-finals.
But with Rybakina landing 86 per cent of her first serves, Kasatkina could find no inroads in the 25-minute set.
In the second set, Kasatkina smartly threw caution to the win and amped her baseline aggression.
After striking just two winners in the first set, Kasatkina grew more opportunistic in the second set and reeled in Rybakina to level at 4-4.
But Rybakina snuffed out Kasatkina’s surge with a blistering return game to break for a fifth and final time to 5-4.
After a brief rain interruption as Rybakina served at 5-4, 30-all, the 2022 Wimbledon champion resumed play and coolly served out the win.
Rybakina finished the match with 17 winners to 12 unforced errors. Kasatkina hit 14 winners to 27 unforced errors, including nine double faults.
The victory improved Rybakina’s record against Kasatkina to 3-2. She has won their last two matches.
“Really happy with this week and the way I played throughout the week,” Rybakina said.
“It was great tennis I think I showed. In the final, I was really focused from the beginning to the end. I’m very proud.”