Elena Rybakina storms past Daria Kasatkina to win Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open title
Of all the days for the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open to experience adverse weather conditions, Sunday was not it.
A tightly packed schedule for the WTA Tour’s Middle East swing – the Qatar Open in Doha starts on Monday – meant there was no margin for error. Either the final was played on Sunday or not at all.
The players, fans, and organisers might have feared the worst after waking up on Sunday morning to persistent grey and gloomy skies and the evidence of overnight storms.
Thankfully, although the rain threatened, it never arrived, at least not in time to stop Elena Rybakina from marching to the title, the top seed living up to her billing with a largely comfortable 6-1, 6-4 victory over Daria Kasatkina.
“It was a tough match and I’m really happy with how I managed the second set,” Rybakina, 24, said. “I’m happy with the whole week here in Abu Dhabi and I’m looking forward already for my match in Doha.”
Perhaps aware of a potentially imminent storm and her quick turnaround time before going to Qatar, Rybakina looked in no mood to leave it in the hands of Mother Nature; the Kazakh took full advantage of Kasatkina’s struggles on serve to race into a one-set lead in just 25 minutes.
The clouds that hovered menacingly above Zayed Sports City’s Stadium Court gathered metaphorically over Kasatkina when she was broken early in the second set to trail 2-1. Yet, just as the final was in danger of becoming a blowout, the Russian dug in to make it competitive.
An immediate break back for 2-2 was followed by two more break exchanges, before Kasatkina got herself in front for the first time with a service hold for 4-3. Unfortunately for the Russian, that’s as good as it got as Rybakina resumed control to win the next two games and give