Third-seeded Kazakh player Elena Rybakina reached the final of the Hobart International on Saturday. She defeated Britain's qualifier Heather Watson 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 16 minutes in their semi-final. This is Rybakina's second consecutive final.
Last week, she had reached the final of the Shenzhen International (lost to Ekaterina Alexandrova). This is the first time in nearly eight years, a WTA player has reached two straight finals to start the new season. Agnieszka Radwanska was the last player to do so in 2013.
The now-retired Pole not only reached the finals in Auckland and Sydney but also won the titles in both events. Rybakina will play fourth seed Shuai Zhang of China in the final on Saturday. Zhang defeated fifth-seeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova in their semi-final 6-3, 6-4 in 64 minutes.
This is was the first time Zhang and Kudermetova had played each other. Speaking about her opponent, the world no. 40 said, "Veronika, she’s a really great player. She plays really fast and heavy, the ball is really high-quality.
I always tried to play deep and focus on my serve, and tried to make [returns] in, because she has a great serve." Women's Doubles The fifth-seeded Indo-Ukrainian team of Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok will take on the second-seeded Chinese pair of Zhang and Shuai Peng in Saturday's doubles final.
Earlier, Peng and Zhang received a walkover from the all-Belgian team of Alison Van Uytvanck and Kirsten Flipkens. Mirza and Kichenok defeated the Czech-Slovenian team of Maria Bouzkova and Tamara Zidansek 7-6(3), 6-2 in one hour and 24 minutes.
This is Mirza's first final in her return to pro tennis since she took a maternity break, in the first tournament of her comeback.