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January 14, 2021

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Sabalenka’s title hat-trick

Aryna Sabalenka won her third straight tour title and 15th straight match by beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2 yesterday in the Abu Dhabi Open final. The fourth-seeded Belarusian, who won indoor tournaments in Ostrava, Czech Republic; and Linz, Austria, at the end of last season, last lost in the fourth round of the French Open in October. Sabalenka, 22, will rise three places to seventh when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday. She is 9-4 in career finals and 6-0 in the last 16 months. Russia’s Kudermetova was playing in her first tour final. The tournament in Abu Dhabi was hastily arranged by the WTA to offer players more match time after the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam, was rescheduled for February amid the coronavirus pandemic. 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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