Sabalenka takes third straight title with Abu Dhabi win

ABU DHABI (AFP) – Aryna Sabalenka captured a third consecutive title by outclassing Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2 in the Abu Dhabi final yesterday to extend her winning streak to 15 straight matches.

The 22-year-old from Belarus added a ninth singles trophy to her collection and will rise to a career-high number seven in the world when the new rankings are released next week.

Sabalenka, who ended her 2020 season by clinching back-to-back titles in Ostrava and Linz, is also riding an 11-match winning streak in the Middle East, having triumphed in Doha on her last previous visit to the region 11 months ago.

Sabalenka drew first blood, breaking for a 4-2 advantage by using the same suffocating kind of tennis that has kept her undefeated since the French Open third round last October. She took a comfortable one-set lead in 26 minutes.

It was one-way traffic for the 22-year-old until Kudermetova finally managed to end a six-game losing run by breaking the Sabalenka serve for 1-2 in the second set.

The fourth seed retaliated immediately though to reclaim control of the contest and it was all over in 65 minutes.