Rome [Italy], May 21 (ANI): Kazakhstan tennis player Elena Rybakina clinched her second title of the year after defeating an injured Anhelina Kalinina in the final of the ongoing Italian Open on Sunday.
She overcame Anhelina Kalinina, who was injured, 6-4, 1-0, ret. Kalinina was forced to withdraw from the final because of a left thigh injury.
After rain disrupted play for much of the day, No.7 seed Rybakina won when No.30 seed Kalinina was unable to continue after 65 minutes. Rybakina had previously defeated Kalinina on the clay courts of Charleston last year.
"Of course, happy with the title. Not the way I want to finish this match. It has been great, I think, results for Anhelina. She played some tough battles. I am really happy about her improvement. Hopefully, she can continue like this. Pity she could not finish the match. I hope that it is nothing serious. So hopefully she can recover quickly and she can continue like this," said Elena after the match as quoted by WTA.
Following her fifth career singles championship in Rome, reigning Wimbledon champion Rybakina is expected to move to World No.4 after this fortnight, marking her Top 5 debut in the WTA Tour singles rankings.
Rybakina, the runner-up at the Australian Open this year, is the first player to win two WTA 1000 titles this season, adding the Rome trophy to her Indian Wells success. Rybakina also made her third WTA 1000 final this year in Miami, and she is 19-2 in WTA 1000 competitions this year.
Only Monica Seles in 1991 and Maria Sharapova in 2012 have reached finals in the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, and Rome in the same season in the Open era.
Rybakina has emerged victorious in 28 tour-level matches this year and is tied for second place on tour with World Number 1 Iga Swiatek. Only world number 2 and current Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka has won more matches this year, a total of 29.
"I am proud that I can maintain this level. It is not easy, with all the scheduling, travelling. I think we are doing a good job with the team. I can see improvements on the court, physically also. I think we are on the right way," said the winner.
Rybakina won 21 games and made 17 unforced errors in the shortened final. She added three aces to her tour-leading total of 278 this year, with 32 coming in the final two weeks in Rome.
Rybakina dropped service during a lengthy first game, and Kalinina eventually built a 3-1 first-set lead. However, Rybakina levelled the score at 3-3 and completed a first-set comeback with a break at 5-4 thanks to powerful service returns.
Kalinina played one point in the second set's second game before claiming she couldn't step on her left leg. The therapist arrived in court, but Kalinina was forced to stop immediately due to the injury.
"I feel like I am at my physical limit today especially. Today, yeah, I started, but after, I do not know, two, three games, I could not. I was trying, but it was absolutely impossible. I am most proud of my fighting spirit these two weeks. I was fighting despite the score, any situation, any weather conditions, and opponents. Everyone was very tough. A serious draw," concluded Elena. (ANI)