In-form Sabalenka powers into Abu Dhabi final

Abu Dhabi (AFP) –


World number 10 Aryna Sabalenka says she'll do everything she can to keep her winning streak alive after she posted a 14th consecutive victory in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to reach her third final in as many tournaments.

Sabalenka needed just 61 minutes to wrap up her 6-3, 6-2 success over the ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the UAE capital.

The 22-year-old from Belarus, who ended her 2020 season by picking up back-to-back titles in Ostrava and Linz, completed an Arabian Gulf hat-trick against Sakkari, having also defeated the Greek in Dubai and Doha 11 months ago.

The longest winning streak in WTA history was Martina Navratilova's 74-match run in 1984.

"It's an unbelievable number. Of course I'd like to go this far and I'll do everything I can to keep winning, so we'll see," said Sabalenka of Navratilova's record.

Sabalenka swept the opening three games and was untroubled until Sakkari stopped her from serving out the first set at 5-1. The Greek narrowed the gap but Sabalenka's firepower delivered in game nine as she secured a one-set lead in just under 30 minutes.

Sakkari enjoyed a better start to the second set but Sabalenka would not relent, and the Belarusian soon earned a double-break advantage en route to victory.

"She played lights-out tennis, she gave me zero chances," said the 22nd-ranked Sakkari.

The fourth-seeded Sabalenka fired 22 winners against a mere eight unforced errors and will be targeting a ninth career title when she faces either Marta Kostyuk or Veronika Kudermetova in Wednesday's final.