Aryna Sabalenka, Qatar Total Open 2020 Champion


World No.13 Aryna Sabalenka out-served and out-hit former champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 to clinch her maiden title at the Qatar Total Open.

Yesterday at the Khalifa International Tennis Complex, the Belarusian delivered a masterclass of power tennis to collect her sixth career title blasting past the world No.11 from the Czech Republic in one hour and 14 minutes.

“It feels so amazing (to win the title) and I couldn’t really expect the title for the first time in Doha. And especially, I mean, I love playing in China, it’s, I’m doing well there, I enjoy it there, but I’m happy to finally win a trophy not in China. I’m really happy, it  feels so special for me,” said Sabalenka, while talking to journalists.

She said took every point as the ‘last point’ and remained focussed throughout the final which ultimately got the winners trophy.

“I knew she is a big fighter, I know she will bring everything she have in the final. And I just knew that and I tried to focus on each point, because I knew that she will try to come back in the game and she will try to beat me.

“I was just like focused, really focused on each point and played every point like the last point and like I’m actually losing. So, yeah, that was the secret, I think,” she added.

The 21-year-old struck seven aces and 21 winners to just 15 unforced errors to end the 2018 champion Kvitova’s 10-match winning streak in Doha and levelling their head-to-head at two apiece. The win in Qatar will see her career rankings jump two places to World No.11, when the new ranking are out on Monday. The winning effort made her richer by $605,000.

Sabalenka is now on an 11-match winning streak at Premier 5 level, having also triumphed in Wuhan last September, and yesterday’s win marked her third title in the past six months.

Her powerful groundstrokes and consistent serves proved too great for the former World No.2, who was certainly not at her level best.

Kvitova was bidding to become the fourth woman to win the Doha title twice, after Anastasia Myskina, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka, but it was not to be instead the Sabalenka won on her doha debut.

Playing her first title match since winning the Stuttgart Open in April 2019, Kvitova was forced to fend off break points in her opening service game.

Kvitova said the ‘serve’ which made the difference.

“The biggest difference was the serve, for sure that was probably the biggest (factor), I couldn’t get to the rally with my shots and my power as I just a few times I did it. I tried to go a little bit for the rallies and I wasn’t lucky over there. But, yeah, it’s been tough.

It is my game as well, for sure, but today she was just better in that game,” said the 29-year-old.

On the other hand, Sabalenka went off to a flying start, breaking Kvitova to race to a 4-1 lead. The youngster rallied to find herself serving for the set before clinching the set 6-3 on her second opportunity with the help of an ace.

The serve turned out to be the difference between the two players. Sabalenka served 81 percent of her first serves and faced no break points in the set. The Belarusian lost only 6 points on serve.
Kvitova was the first to earn break points in the fourth game.

However, in Sabalenka held a lengthy and gutsy service game, denying 5 break points to her opponent.

After holding her serve at 3-2, Petra Kvitova took an off-court medical time out as Sabalenka received some on-court coaching during the break.

Following an off-court medical timeout, Kvitova would also hold a 0-30 lead in the former World No.9’s next service game – but was unable to keep down her own error count, which ultimately tallied 19 to only 12 winners, to take advantage. Having survived danger twice, Sabalenka took her power game to yet another level, finding a forehand pass to break the 29-year-old to love for 4-3 and then repeatedly pulling off a series of breathtaking winners as the finishing line drew closer.

Kvitova wasn’t about to go quietly, boldly swinging away at a series of drive volleys to stave off triple match point serving at 3-5 – but Sabalenka would take this mini-tussle as well, sealing her fourth championship point as a backhand pass hit the net cord, forcing Kvitova to volley wide.


More on Sports