Ostapenko dominates Kudermetova to win Dubai Tennis Championships title

Latvian cruises to a 6-0, 6-4 victory in 65 minutes for her fifth WTA Tour title

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Jelena Ostapenko cannot be accused of taking the easy route to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title.

It speaks to the depth of the field in Dubai this week that the world No 21 faced Grand Slam champions in every round en route to the final, where she dismantled Russia's Veronika Kudermetova 6-0, 6-4 on Saturday evening.

Ostapenko, herself a major winner having won the French Open as an unseeded 20-year-old in 2017, started her campaign with a dominant victory over former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin, before edging fellow Roland Garros conqueror Iga Swiatek in the second round. The Latvian then took out two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the match of the tournament, prevailing 11-9 in a third-set tiebreak.

Next up in the semi-finals was Simona Halep, twice a Grand Slam winner, in a rematch of the 2017 French Open final, and the match played out not dissimilarly to that clash in Paris almost five years ago, Halep taking the first set comfortably before Ostapenko blasted the Romanian off the court.

Entering the final, Ostapenko picked up where she left off against Halep, ripping winners all over the court and overpowering Kudermetova to race into a one-set lead after just 22 minutes. Including the second-set tiebreak in the semi-final, Ostapenko had won 13 games in a row across two matches.

Kudermetova, the world No 31, managed to put the brakes on the Ostapenko juggernaut at the start of the second set with a break and a hold to lead 2-0, but it proved temporary relief as the Latvian swiftly levelled at 2-2.

Ostapenko then gave herself the chance to serve for the match at 5-3 but a wobble allowed Kudermetova the chance to extend the contest, at least for one more game. There was no denying her a second time, though, as Ostapenko closed out the victory on her second match point after just 65 minutes.

"I'm really happy with the title," Ostapenko said. "In general the whole week I was playing really well, had some great wins. Especially today I was very focused and really into the match. I played well. I was dictating from the beginning so it was hard for her."

It may have had a disappointing conclusion, but Kudermetova can look back on a very satisfying week in Dubai. To reach her fourth career final - and second of the year - the Russian eliminated former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka and defending champion Garbine Muguruza.

"I beat a lot of good players, it was very emotional for me," she said. "Maybe I was not ready mentally for the final today, but I hope I can take a lesson from that final and next time I will do better."

The Ostapenko-Kudermetova rivalry in Dubai is not over yet, though, as both players are involved in the doubles final, Ostapenko partnering with Lyudmyla Kichenok and Kudermetova with Elise Mertens, and the Russian is keen to earn a measure of revenge.

"It motivates me; I lose the final, now I have another final," she said. "If I want to be a champion or I want to be a top player, I need to forego this final and keep working on the next final. It's very important. It's like a step forward."

Updated: February 20, 2022, 8:15 AM