Elena Rybakina was thwarted last week at the Shenzhen International by Ekaterina Alexandrova who won her maiden WTA title in the first tournament of the season. This week, in the Hobart International final on Saturday, the Kazakh player would not be denied as she defeated China's Shuai Zhang 7-6(7), 6-3 in an hour and 33 minutes to win her first title this season, and the second of her career (after Bucharest in 2019).
The first set was the tougher mountain to scale for the third seed. It started off easy enough for her though as she built a quick 4-1 lead over her fourth-seeded opponent. However, the lead did not last for long and Zhang broke back and the set was tugged along right up to the tie-break.
In the tie-break, Zhang had a set point at 6-5 but Rybakina determinedly erased it. Rybakina's first set point came at 7-6 but an errant shot from her levelled the score. A second set point for the 20-year-old came at 8-7 and this time, a mistimed shot for Zhang sealed Rybakina's lead in the match.
The second set was more straightforward thereafter, with Rybakina breaking Zhang twice – while not facing any break points of her own – to claim the title. Following her win, Rybakina will attain a new career-high of 26 when the WTA rankings are updated on Monday, 20th January.
She will be seeded 29th at the Australian Open in what will be her first time playing in the main draw of a Major. Photo Credit: Hobart International Twitter