Sabalenka makes statement with Doha victory

  • Matt Trollope

World No.13 Aryna Sabalenka sent a resounding reminder to the tennis world of her talent and credentials with victory at the WTA tournament in Doha.    

The Belarusian powered to a 6-3 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova to win her fourth career title – three of which have come at WTA Premier 5 level.   

Sabalenka’s win over Kvitova came a day after she beat another two-time major champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in straight sets in the semifinals.  

Following on from her quarterfinal run in Dubai last week, Sabalenka has now won seven of her past eight matches and is projected to rise to No.11 in next week’s rankings. 

"I couldn't really expect the title for the first time in Doha... I'm really happy, it feels so special for me," she said.

"I was really focused on each point, and played every point like the last point and like I'm actually losing. I respect [Kvitova], I knew she is a big fighter, I know she will bring everything she have on this final.

"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." 

Ever since cracking the top 15 in early October 2018, Sabalenka has not fallen outside this bracket, peaking at No.9.

In that time she has won back-to-back Wuhan titles (2018, 2019) and her third prestigious tournament trophy in Doha, as well as the WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai.

With her powerful serve, booming groundstrokes and impressive intensity, the 21-year-old has built a 12-5 win-loss record this season.

While she has yet to translate that success to Grand Slam level – just twice has she gone beyond the second round at a major – many have tipped her as a player with the weaponry and the attitude to become a major force in the women’s game. 

In her short pro career she has already notched 12 wins over top 10 players, most recently a straight-sets destruction of Simona Halep in the second round of the Adelaide International, where she went on to reach the semifinals.

Kvitova almost counts as another top-10 victory for Sabalenka; the 11th-ranked Czech tipped her hat to a complete performance from the Belarusian. 

"Aryna played amazing match," said Kvitova.

"For sure she didn't give me anything for free, I had a chance once in the second set to break her serve, but I just couldn't make it. But it was very tight game and probably that's really helped her to win the second set."

Sabalenka and Kvitova will next head to Indian Wells, one of the biggest tournaments in the world outside of the four Grand Slams.