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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday November 15, 2020

 
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Aryna Sabalenka toppled her longtime doubles partner in Linz for her eighth career title.

Photo Source: Getty

Aryna Sabalenka finished her season on a high note in Linz.

The 22-year old Belarusian locked up her third title of 2020 by defeating her longtime doubles partner Elise Mertens, 7-5, 6-2, on Sunday at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz.

Tennis Express

Sabalenka, who will finish the season in the Top 10 for the first time after two consecutive seasons ended at No.11 in the world, ties Simona Halep for the WTA’s title lead with three, and earns her eighth career title with the win.

WTA Titles, 2020

Sabalenka, 3
Halep, 3
Svitolina, 2
Kenin, 2

Sabalenka broke up a close match and won nine of the final eleven games to earn the victory in one hour and 42 minutes. She improves to 4-2 lifetime against Mertens, and has now defeated the 24-year-old four straight times.

There were two trades of breaks, and Mertens served for the set before Sabalenka broke back and claimed the final three games of the first set.

“The first set was a really tricky one, there were a lot of ups and downs,” Sabalenka said. “I think she put pressure on me and I was putting pressure on her. I’m really happy that I could handle that set and the second set I was a little bit more free because I won the first one and I was a little bit more relaxed.”


Sabalenka saved six of eight break points and broke serve five times against Mertens. She was particularly effective against the Belgian’s second serve, winning 19 of 26 such points.

“She’s a very powerful player,” Mertens said. “So it was very difficult to get in the neutral position. So I think that made the difference. She was serving really well in the second set, also dominating the points.”

Sabalenka improved to 8-4 in lifetime finals, and she has now won nine consecutive matches after claiming the Ostrava title in October.

“I think she’s more consistent now, definitely,” said Mertens. “I think she’s on a roll and it was very difficult to get some kind of rhythm into the court and to get into the court in general.”

 

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