Aryna Sabalenka wins 3rd straight title in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Aryna Sabalenka won her third straight tour title and 15th straight match by beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2 Wednesday in the Abu Dhabi Open final.

The fourth-seeded Belarusian, who won indoor tournaments in Ostrava and Linz at the end of last season, last lost in the third round of the French Open in October.

“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning (in Abu Dhabi) and I’m happy to start the season with a title,” Sabalenka said. “I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with one thing, that I will do everything I can to win matches.”

Sabalenka will rise three places to seventh in the rankings. She is 9-4 in career finals and 6-0 in the last 16 months. Kudermetova was playing in her first tour final.

“I think today is not my day because I was very slow,” Kudermetova said. “I had a lot of mistakes.”

The tournament in Abu Dhabi was hastily arranged by the WTA to offer players more match time after the Australian Open was rescheduled for February amid the coronavirus pandemic. It is the only WTA Tour event outside Australia in the run-up to the first major of the year.

Sabalenka and Kudermetova will now travel to Australia, where they will spend time in quarantine with limited practice opportunities ahead of the Australian Open and its warm-up events.

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This story has been corrected to show that Sabalenka lost in the third round of the French Open in October, not the fourth.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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