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Swiatek wins third straight Qatar crown
Published on: Monday, February 19, 2024
By: AFP
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Swiatek wins third straight Qatar crown
Swiatek poses with the trophy.
DOHA: World number one Iga Swiatek won the Qatar Open for the third year in a row on Saturday after beating Elena Rybakina 7-6 (10/8), 6-2 in the final.

Swiatek is the first player to win three straight titles at the same WTA event since Serena Williams completed a Miami Open hat-trick from 2013-15.

“You don’t even know hard it was not to think about it,” said Swiatek, whose record now stands at now 13-1 in Doha since her 2020 debut.

“I came here and was pretty stressed because I felt the expectations. I wanted to do everything step by step like I always do. I’m really happy. I’m really proud of myself.”

Swiatek claimed her 18th career singles title, and her first of the 2024 season. Her only defeat in the last 23 matches was to Czech teen Linda Noskova in the Australian Open third round. Rybakina fell short in her bid for a third title of the year. The Kazakh had lifted the trophy last week in Abu Dhabi after winning in Brisbane at the start of January.

“I fought till the end,” said Rybakina, who defeated Swiatek in all three meetings last year. “Congratulations to Iga for a great week.”

Swiatek, who received a walkover Friday when Karolina Pliskova withdrew with a lower back injury, entered the final having won her last 21 sets at the tournament.

However, she made a dreadful start and fell a double break behind at 1-4 against an in-form Rybakina, on an eight-match winning streak since an early exit at the Australian Open.

The third-seeded Rybakina required a medical timeout after accidentally cutting her leg with her racquet while serving, the brief stoppage stalling her momentum.

The Pole broke twice in succession to bring the set back on serve, but it looked as if Rybakina would snatch it when she won a lengthy 11th game to go 6-5 up with her service game to come.

Swiatek rallied once more to force a tie-break but failed to take two set points before having to save one herself. After another missed opportunity, the top seed closed out a 90-minute opening set at the fourth time of asking.

She saved two set points early in the second set before putting her foot down to sweep into a 3-1 lead. A second break of Rybakina in the seventh game left Swiatek on the cusp of victory, which she wrapped up in two hours and 19 minutes.

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