The 20-year-old Elena Rybakina looks determined to reach the top-10 as soon as possible following a rock-solid start of her 2020 campaign. The young Kazakh has won 18 out of 21 matches this season, losing the final in Shenzhen before conquering Hobart to make another big step towards the top-20.
Ashleigh Barty proved to be too strong in the third round of the Australian Open and Elena didn't think about that loss for too long, advancing into the third final of the year in St. Petersburg, winning just four games against Kiki Bertens.
The hard-hitting youngster wasn't among the favorites in the packed field in Dubai but that was hardly an obstacle for her, defeating the Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the first round and toppling world no. 3 Karolina Pliskova 7-6, 6-3 to advance into the fourth semi-final from WTA tournaments played in 2020 so far!
Competing as the top-20 players for the first time, Elena has been one of the players to beat so far at this strong WTA Premier event, ousting Pliskova in their opening clash on the Tour to reach the last four and stay on the title course.
Rybakina blasted 11 aces and fended off nine out of ten break chances, coming from 4-2 down in the opening set to pull the break back straight away and clinch the tie break 7-1. The second set saw many challenging and extended games and it was decided with an early break for Elena who fended off all six break chances to control the scoreboard and seal the deal in straight sets.
"I have to adjust because everything is new for me," Rybakina said. "It is always great to beat a player from the top-5 but I didn't think if she's no. 2 or 3 – it doesn't matter to me. I always try to do my best and want to win every match; I was focusing on what I had to do."