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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday May 20, 2023

Elena Rybakina

Elena Rybakina claimed her biggest career clay-court title as Anhelina Kalinina was forced to retire due to injury.

Photo Source: Internazionali BNL d'Italia

A final that started after 11 PM in Rome due to a day's worth of deluge that pushed the second men's semifinal back well into the evening, didn’t go very far past midnight, as Anhelina Kalinina was forced to retire with a lower body injury after just one game of the second set against Elena Rybakina.

Tennis Express

Playing in her first WTA 1000 final, the Ukrianian had battled through three three-setters to reach the final, including the longest match of the season with Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarterfinals, but she ran out of gas in the second set.

After one point in her first service game of the second set, Kalinina abruptly walked to her chair and would soon call it quits on the contest.

Rybakina, who rallied from a break down in the opening set, ended up winning six of the final seven games to claim the 6-4, 1-0 RET victory.

It was a bizarre week for Rybakina, who won via retirement three times, including in the quarterfinal against Iga Swiatek, when the World No.1 pulled the plug with a right thigh injury at 2-2 in the final set.

Nevertheless she played exceptional tennis and emerges as a deserving champion who will carry title hopes to Paris for the French Open, where main draw play begins on Sunday May 28.

Rybakina will rise to a career-high ranking of No.4 in the world on Monday.

It was a bittersweet ending for Kalinina, who inspired so many on her way to the final as she became the second Ukrainian to ever reach a WTA 1000 final.

She notched wins over Sofia Kenin, Madison Keys, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Veronika Kudermetova to reach the final. She will climb to a career-high ranking of 25 in Monday’s WTA rankings.


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