Rybakina Battles past Samsonova and Meets Kasatkina in the Abu Dhabi Open Final
Elena Rybakina facing Danielle Collins (not pictured) in Abu Dhabi. February 8, 2024. Photo courtesy: Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open Media.

Top seed Elena Rybakina battled past World No. 15 Liudmila Samsonova in a nail-biting three-setter, notching a spot on Sunday’s championship match against Daria Kasatkina at the WTA Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open.

World number five Elena Rybakina progressed into the WTA 500 Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open championship match by prevailing over eighth seed Liudmila Samsonova 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 after one hour and 51 minutes on Stadium Court, Saturday night.

After reaching her second final this season - beat World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka at the Brisbane International - Rybakina commented: “It was a really tough battle, and I’m really happy that I managed to win in the end.”

Assessing her performance, the former World No. 3 added: “I started pretty well the match. A few shots went my way, but in the second set, my focus and energy went a bit down, but I stayed there and kept fighting.

Really happy that I managed to win, and it was a really good match for me.”

On Sunday, the 24-year-old player from Kazakhstan will face seventh seed Daria Kasatkina, who earlier in the day rallied over three hours to overpower Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2) for a place in the final.

Speaking about the marathon encounter, Kasatkina outlined: “The tiebreak, I gave it everything. I went for it and really appreciate it for myself, because for me, it’s not easy to play this way, especially in circumstances like this, where it’s so important. Really happy about it.

Meanwhile, Haddad Maia, scheduled to play the doubles semifinals hours later alongside Brazilian Luisa Stefani, withdrew from the match due to a back injury, which handed the American duo featuring Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands a walkover.

For their part, former Wimbledon winner Rybakina and Kasatkina will square off for the first time in a championship match on Sunday, tied in their series 2-2.

The former eased through the opener without facing a lone break point to close out 6-0.

Samsonova, last year’s runner-up, regrouped, breaking to open the second set and held to extend her lead.

The 25-year-old raised her level, dominating play as she found her rhythm to level up the contest and forcing a decider.

The final set saw Rybakina bouncing back, forcing her opponent to commit costly mistakes - Samsonova hit 44 unforced errors overall to her rival just 15 - leading to a clinical break in the fourth game as the Russian double-faulted.

Solid behind her serve, she moved forward, stepping up the pressure with her heavy groundstrokes, breaking to grab the set 6-2 and the match.

Addressing the upcoming showdown, Rybakina asserted: “It’s going to be a very tough match against Kasatkina.

A completely different style of the game. I have to have really good footwork and play aggressively.”

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and journalist, passionate about motorsport and tennis.Her articles are published in newspapers and international online publications.

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