The first week of the 2021 season is in the books as the Abu Dhabi WTA Women’s Tennis Open concluded with a one-sided final and another dominant performance from Aryna Sabalenka. It’s been nice to have tennis as a distraction. There have been some great storylines from Australian Open qualifying in Dubai. The 20-year-old Brit, Francesca Jones, qualified for her first Slam main draw. In these dark times, it is a wonderfully uplifting story. I’m also thrilled that Rebecca Marino has qualified for her first Slam main draw since 2013.
The tennis world will now go quiet as the players head to Australia and quarantine for two weeks. The tennis action will resume on the 31st of January with two WTA 500 events in Melbourne.
Final result 🏆
Aryna Sabalenka won her third straight title and extended her winning streak to 15 matches with a 6-2 6-2 victory over Veronika Kudermetova. It was another devastating performance from Sabalenka who dropped just 9 games in her final two matches. I don’t think this was all-out ballbashing from Sabalenka who played with margin all week. In the final, Sabalenka’s returns were consistently deep and aggressive, and she exerted so much pressure on Kudermetova. She served superbly and her movement was very dynamic. Sabalenka really is a delight to watch in this form.
There’s not much more to add on the final. Simply too good. I’m fascinated to see if Sabalenka can translate this form into the Australian Open. Surely the big Slam breakthrough is coming this year?! To be honest, i’m still wary.
A few highlights from Abu Dhabi…
Best match 🎾
Kudermetova-Svitolina was my favourite match of the year so far. The third set is well worth a watch back if you haven’t seen it. An honourable mention to Kostyuk-Hsieh.
Best individual performance 🔥
The final was impressive but I’d go for Aryna Sabalenka’s 6-3 6-2 semi-final win over Maria Sakkari as the performance of the week. Of all the players Sabalenka played, Sakkari was perhaps the one who had the tools to mix up the pace and height of her groundstrokes and cause problems. Sabalenka hit 22 winners to 8 unforced errors and didn’t give Sakkari a chance to get in the match.
Biggest upset 😱
In her first WTA main draw and first match against a top 100 player, Anastasia Gasanova beat the number three seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-2 6-4.
Aryna Sabalenka’s 15 match winning streak and awesome run to the title.
Veronika Kudermetova’s first WTA final. She is inching closer to being the highest ranked Russian.
Marta Kostyuk’s breakthrough run. It’s going to be a big year for Marta.
Maria Sakkari beating Coco Gauff, Garbiñe Muguruza and Sofia Kenin in a row. Sakkari’s improvement in the past year has been very impressive.
Those lightning fast courts. More please!