Aryna Sabalenka of Minsk, Belarus won her sixth Women’s Tennis Association tournament on Saturday. Sabalenka defeated 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-3 in the final of the 2020 Qatar Open in Doha.
Sabalenka entered the tournament as the ninth seed. She got a bye to the second round when two-time major champion Simona Halep of Romania withdrew because of a right foot injury. Sabalenka then beat Anett Kontaveit of Estonia 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 in the second round, 15th ranked Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-3, 6-0 rather easily in the third round, Saisai Zheng of China 3-6, 7-6, 6-3 in the quarterfinals and two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinal. Halep won the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon, while Kuznetsova won the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open.
In Saturday’s final, Sabalenka beat Kvitova, the eighth seed, in one hour and 14 minutes. Sabalenka broke Kvitova once in the first set and twice in the second set. Another major reason why Sabalenka was victorious came down to her serve. Sabalenka had seven aces, compared to Kvitova’s two.
Sabalenka and Kvitova are now tied at two matches each head to head. Sabalenka previously beat Kvitova 7-5, 6-1 in the third round of the 2018 U.S. Open. Kvitova’s two wins against Sabalenka came in the second round of the 2018 Miami Open (7-5, 3-6, 6-3) and in the first round of the 2019 Sydney International (6-1, 7-5). Last year in Australia, Kvitova won the Sydney International by beating Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the final, 1-6, 7-5, 7-6.
Meanwhile, this was Sabalenka’s third career Premier 5 title victory. She previously won the 2018 Wuhan Open in China by beating Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3 in the final, and then defended her title in Wuhan a year later in 2019, by defeating Alison Riske of the United States 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the final. Sabalenka’s three other career titles came at the 2018 Connecticut Open, the 2019 Shenzhen Open and the 2019 WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai. It is interesting that four of Sabalenka’s six career titles have been in China.