Abu Dhabi: Elena Rybakina sets up semis against player who is her nightmare matchup

On Friday, Rybakina routinely booked a place in the Abu Dhabi semifinal following a straight-set win over a qualifier.

by Dzevad Mesic
Abu Dhabi: Elena Rybakina sets up semis against player who is her nightmare matchup
© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike

Elena Rybakina has been through to the Abu Dhabi semifinal after ousting world No. 74 Cristina Bucsa. 

Rybakina, the top-seeded player in Abu Dhabi, saw off qualifier Bucsa 6-1 6-4 to make her first semifinal at the WTA 500 event in the United Arab Emirates. Previously, Rybakina was a quarterfinalist in Abu Dhabi in 2021 and 2023.

Rybakina, 24, and 26-year-old Bucsa were playing against each other for the second time. Earlier this year, Rybakina also beat Bucsa 6-2 7-5 in the Adelaide International round-of-16.

Elena Rybakina
Elena Rybakina© Getty Images Sport - Christopher Pike

How Rybakina defeated Bucsa and who is her next opponent?

Rybakina made an emphatic start against Bucsa, claiming back-to-back breaks en route to winning the opening five games of the match. In the sixth game, Bucsa managed to finally serve out one service game and hold to her serve but it didn't change much as Rybakina routinely served out for the first set in the following game.

After easily losing the first set, Bucsa started playing much better at the start of the second set and she even claimed her first break of the match in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. However, Bucsa's lead was short-lived as Rybakina instantly got the break back in the following game.

After recovering from an early break down in the second set, Rybakina broke Bucsa again in the ninth game to go 5-4 up. Serving for the match in the 10th game, Rybakina served out the game to love and routinely closed out the match. 

In the Abu Dhabi semifinal, Rybakina plays against No. 8 seed Liudmila Samsonova. In the opening match of Friday's schedule, Samsonova defeated 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-1 6-4. 

Elena Rybakina and Liudmila Samsonova
Elena Rybakina and Liudmila Samsonova© Getty Images Sport - Minas Panagiotakis

When Rybakina and Samsonova meet, it will be their fifth meeting. A bit shockingly, fifth-ranked Rybakina has never beaten world No. 15 Samsonova. After beating Rybakina in 2021 Montreal and 2022 Tokyo, Samsonova also beat the Kazakh last year in Montreal and Beijing.

It remains to be seen if Rybakina can clinch her first win over Samsonova when she meets the No. 8 seed in the Abu Dhabi semifinal.

Elena Rybakina