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Sabalenka wins third straight WTA title

Aryna Sabalenka will arrive at the Australian Open in top form after winning her third straight WTA title and 15th straight match by beating Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 6-2 in the Abu Dhabi Open final.

The fourth-seeded Belarusian, who won indoor tournaments in Ostrava and Linz at the end of last season, last lost in the fourth round of the French Open in October.

Sabalenka will rise three places to seventh in the rankings. She is 9-4 in career finals and 6-0 in the last 16 months.

“I was doing everything I could in each match from the beginning (in Abu Dhabi) and I’m happy to start the season with a title,” Sabalenka said. “I’m going to Australia, I’m confident with one thing, that I will do everything I can to win matches.”

Kudermetova was playing in her first tour final.

“I think today is not my day because I was very slow,” Kudermetova said. “I had a lot of mistakes.”

The tournament in Abu Dhabi was hastily arranged by the WTA to offer players more match time after the Australian Open was rescheduled for February amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Sabalenka and Kudermetova will now travel to Australia, where they will spend time in quarantine with limited practice opportunities ahead of the Australian Open and its warm-up events.

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