Rybakina sets up final showdown with Kasatkina on sold-out Sunday Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open

ABU DHABI: Wimbledon Champion Elena Rybakina prevailed through three sets against Liudmila Samsonova to book her spot in Sunday's sold-out final of the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, finally breaking her winless streak over her opponent. With the threat of adverse weather conditions on Sunday, the doubles final at Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open on Sunday 11 February will now begin at 12pm (midday), with the singles final scheduled as planned for NB 5pm. World No. 5 Rybakina has defied her winless record against Samsonova with a hard-fought three-set victory 6-0 4-6 6-2. The 2022 Wimbledon champion, Rybakina, who had lost the previous four encounters against her opponent, now faces an enticing final showdown against Daria Kasatkina, as she aims to secure her second WTA 500 title of the season in Abu Dhabi. In Saturday's first semi-final, Daria Kasatkina clinched her spot in the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open final after a three-set thriller against Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia. The match, a gripping battle lasting nearly th ree hours, concluded with Kasatkina prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2). The World No. 14 surged into a one-set lead and held a break advantage in the second set, before facing a resilient comeback from the Brazilian, who pushed her all the way to a third-set tie-break. Despite the fervent support of the Abu Dhabi crowd, Haddad Maia fell at the final hurdle in a valiant attempt to stage a comeback, having spent an astonishing 13-plus hours on court during the tournament. Kasatkina now stands on the brink of glory as she prepares to take on the formidable Rybakina in what promises to be an eagerly awaited final, particularly given their previous encounter - a three-set marathon in Montreal last year lasting three hours and 27 minutes. Kasatkina will be hoping to be on the right side of history this Sunday, with a full capacity crowd expected for the sold-out finals day. AMERICAN PAIR KENIN and MATTEK-SANDS SECURE DOUBLES FINALS SPOT American duo Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands secured their spot in the doubles final following a walkover, and are set to take on Linda Noskova and Heather Watson in the final showdown. The latter advanced directly to the championship match due to a walkover in the semi-finals, with their opponents Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera withdrawing due to injury. ROAD TO MADO CONCLUDES WITH WINNERS ANNOUNCED The Road to Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, which aims to discover the UAE's next tennis stars, reached its conclusion with the U14 and U16 winners securing an all-expenses-paid trip to train at the prestigious Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy in Spain. The academy boasts an impressive alumni of players, including reigning Wimbledon champion, Carlos Alcaraz, and U14 Girls winner Isabelle James, U14 Boys winner Mithun Sendilkumar, U16 Girls winner Saida Ismail, U16 Boys winner Timur Gordee, will now have the opportunity to train alongside some of the world's most exceptional talents. All players were presented with their trophies on Stadium Court by former tennis player and 2016 Olympic Gol d Medalist, Mónica Puig. Elsewhere, Saturday's proceedings kicked off with a lively performance from the Abu Dhabi Police Parade Band in the Fan Village, setting the stage for an electrifying semi-finals day. Ahead of this year's event, courts at the International Tennis Centre, Zayed Sports City were resurfaced by Laykold. Laykold Chill tech courts are being used in Abu Dhabi for the first time at an international tournament to reduce the effect of heat on player performance. Scott Windus, Manager Laykold Asia said: 'Heat is a huge factor in the overall performance of tennis players and we are delighted to see our Laykold Chill tech courts, which feature temperature reducing nano-technology, used for the first time at the Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open. 'As a court provider, we have a strong commitment to player welfare and we are continually trying to improve our surfaces in order for players to perform at the highest level.' Source: Emirates News Agency

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