Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open Day 7 updates: Last four battle to reach final
Reports and reaction from the semi-finals at Zayed Sports City International Tennis Centre
Aryna Sabalenka extended her winning streak to 14 matches after producing a thoroughly dominant performance to defeat Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-2 and reach the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open final.
Fourth seed Sabalenka, who won the final two tournaments of last year's shortened season, has picked up where she left off by winning five matches in Abu Dhabi for the loss of just one set.
The world No 10's win over Sakkari was her most impressive yet given the Greek ninth seed's own fine form in the capital, which included wins over top seed Sofia Kenin and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.
But Sakkari was no match for Sabalenka, who blew her opponent off the court in a display of controlled power and precision. This is evidently a player brimming with confidence.
Even after Sabalenka was broken when serving for the first set at 5-1, and Sakkari subsequently held to reduce the deficit to 5-3, the fourth seed comfortably claimed the opener at the second time of asking.
Sakkari managed to settle into the match during the first few games of the second set, but Sabalenka stepped up her level in the fifth game to break, and after holding for a 4-2 lead, her place in the final felt inevitable.
Sakkari's resistance crumbled at that point as Sabalenka claimed another comfortable break before serving out the match, clinching victory with her eighth ace.
Sabalenka will be the overwhelming favourite for the final, where she faces Russia's world No 46 Veronika Kudermetova.
Sabalenka: "I spoke with my coach and we both agreed that this match would be played quick. Maybe my serve was working a bit better than yesterday [in the quarter-final], but overall I think my performance was quite similar to yesterday. I’m really happy to win this one."
Sabalenka on 14-match winning streak: "I think I put my focus on the right things. This helps me to, first of all, not think about all the wins, and secondly, to keep winning. I need to keep focusing on my game ... and try to keep everything in the moment. It seems to be working really well for me."
Sakkari: "[Sabalenka] played lights out tennis. She gave me zero chances to comes back I just couldn’t find a way from the baseline. She was dictating and playing really big and strong, so I have to give that to her."
Sakkari on positives from Abu Dhabi: "OK, I’m disappointed now but in a few hours I’ll be fine. There are so many positives I can take with me to Australia. Overall, my game has improved a lot. It’s in a much better place than it was last year. I feel very confident. Even though I got destroyed today, it doesn’t matter, it happens, and I think Aryna played really, really well. I just didn’t do enough."
Kudermetova into first final
Russia's Veronika Kudermetova reached her first WTA Tour final on Tuesday after defeating Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 7-6, 6-4 at the Abu Dhabi WTA Women's Tennis Open.
Kudermetova managed to quickly turn around a 3-1 deficit in the first set with successive breaks of serve, but Kostyuk forced the tie-break after breaking back as the world No 46 served for the set at 5-4.
A tense and tight tie-break saw both players struggle to win their service points before Kudermetova landed the all-important breakthrough to take the opener 10-8.
Kudermetova surged into a 3-0 lead in the second set and kept herself out in front even as Kostyuk broke back to get the match back on serve. The Russian had the chance to serve out the victory at 5-3 but squandered two match points as Kostyuk once again forced the set back on serve.
However, the Ukrainian teenager was unable to hold her own serve as Kudermetova finally sealed the win on her fifth match point.
Updated: January 12, 2021 03:24 PM