18 January 2020

Elena Rybakina claims second title of her career and hits form ahead of Australian Open, beating Zhang Shuai in straight-sets in Hobart International final

Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina has won her first title of the year claiming a straight-sets victory over China's Zhang Shuai in the final at the Hobart International.

Having already beaten Britain's Heather Watson in the semi-final, the 20-year-old rising star put in a mature display of tennis to overcome the No 4 seed and continue her rapid rise up the WTA rankings.

Rybakina, who last year lost in qualifying ahead of the Australian Open, held her nerve to close out the first set, in the process saving a set point in the tie-break after a marathon hour and 33 minutes set.

The world No 30 kept her cool in the second and the pair soon found themselves neck-and-neck at 3-3.

Rybakina found some pin-point accuracy as the set advanced and capitalising on her powerful ground strokes took the match with a phenomenal forehand return that forced her opponent to go wide.

For Rybakina, it appears she is peaking at the right time, having now won 30 of her last 39 games and will now face America's Bernarda Pera in the first round of the Australian Open on January 20.

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