The 2020 Qatar Total Open concluded on Saturday to bring a close to the Middle East swing. Aryna Sabalenka beat Petra Kvitova to win the title in Doha. Read on for a review of the final. I’ve enjoyed the Dubai-Doha double this year with a handful of memorable moments and quality matches. I’m hoping to be back on the blog midway through Indian Wells to cover the first Premier Mandatory tournament of 2020 😊.
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1. Sabalenka wins Doha
Aryna Sabalenka produced a sensational display to beat Petra Kvitova and claim the Doha title, 6-3 6-3. Sabalenka was unstoppable behind her serve in the first set as she landed 81% (!) of first serves in. The Belarusian player was lethal on the first strike after the serve. Kvitova was constantly on the back foot which is just so rare to see. Sabalenka’s first serve percentage only dropped a tad in the second set and while Kvitova had her chances, notably five break points in an eight deuce game, Sabalenka got out of the game with back-to-back aces.
Sabalenka secured the crucial break in the second set at 3-3 and then powered home to the victory. Kvitova took an off-court medical time-out in the second set and didn’t seem at her sharpest, but take nothing away from Sabalenka who played a great match.
2. Thoughts on Sabalenka and Kvitova
Sabalenka’s year has been a bit up and down till now but she has emerged through this Middle East swing . I thought she was superb in Adelaide but then fell at the first hurdle into Melbourne to Carla Suárez Navarro which was a surprising loss. Sabalenka is looking back to her sharp, energised and dynamic best, and she’s a real asset to the tour in this form.
I was looking at the Slam records and couldn’t believe Sabalenka has only once made it to the second week of a Slam just once before. Even with recency bias, surely that statistic will change before the end of the year? Kvitova is having a very consistent year and has reached at least the quarter-finals in all four of her tournaments played in 2020. No titles yet but surely that will change soon.
3. The Barty-Kvitova semi-final 🔥
I loved the semi-final between Petra Kvitova and Ash Barty on Friday where Kvitova snapped a four match losing streak to beat the world number one, 6-4 2-6 6-4. There were shades of Peak Petra in the first set as she battered winners behind her serve. Barty got stuck in in the second set and increasingly used her slice, but Kvitova managed to stay on top in the deciding set with some huge ball striking. The pair played the best point of the match with Kvitova serving for it at *5-4 in the decider 👏⬇.
Petra is such a class act. Nice moment after the final.
Press conference 📰