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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, February 17, 2024


Iga Swiatek rallied from 1-4 down defeating Elena Rybakina 7-6(8), 6-2 to claim her third straight Doha crown with her 12th consecutive Qatar Open win.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

A whipping wind and thunderous strikes from her nemesis put Iga Swiatek in a double break deficit.

A reeling Swiatek plugged into her power source—strong self-belief and rapid racquet acceleration—in an electric comeback.

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Roaring back from 1-4 down, Swiatek saved a set point in the tiebreaker defeating Elena Rybakina 7-6(8) 6-2 to capture her third consecutive Qatar Open crown and make history as the first three-time Doha champion. 

Blown out at the start, Swiatek amped up her aggression and accuracy overcoming both blustery conditions and the 2022 Wimbledon winner who had beaten her three times in a row.

"It was really long, it was really tough," Swiatek said after the two-hour, 19-minute triumph. "Congrats to Elena for a great tournament and to your team.

"You’re doing a great job. We already played so many tough matches that I think it’s just gonna be great if we continue and have fun and just give a nice experience to the fans."

The top-seeded Swiatek is the first woman to win a WTA tournament three times in a row since Serena Williams swept the Miami Open from 2013 to 2015.

How strong is the powerful Pole in the desert? Swiatek scored her fifth straight Top-5 win and eighth consecutive Top 10 victory.

It is Swiatek’s 12th straight Doha victory as she snapped Rybakina’s eight-match winning streak denying the world No. 4 her third title of the season.

“I fought to the end, happy that you enjoyed it guys,” said Rybakina, who owns a WTA-best 15-3 record in 2024. “Of course congratulate Iga with a great week and her team for the great job.”

The 22-year-old Swiatek improved to 18-5 lifetime in Tour-level finals capturing her first championship since she beat Jessica Pegula in the WTA Finals title match last November.

Playing declarative first-strike tennis, Rybakina rolled out to a 4-1 double-break lead that left the defending champion reeling.

Then things got painful for Rybakina, who smacked her shin on the follow through of her serve drawing blood and requiring a medical timeout.

Forced to defend off her back foot through five games, Swiatek began to assert her aggression.

The top seed reeled off four games in a row edging ahead 5-4 before Rybakina stamped a love hold.

On her third break point of the 11th game, Rybakina smacked a crosscourt backhand, moved in and hit a forehand drive volley breaking for 6-5 after 67 minutes of tension.

Tennis Express

Serving for the set, Rybakina could not close. Swiatek tossed up a lob to extend the point then raced up to a mid-court ball cracking a forehand to score her third break to force the tiebreaker.

Each woman had opportunities in the breaker.

Down 4-6, Rybakina saved two points—first firing a forehand winner then prevailing in a 16-shot rally—and held a set point of her own at 7-6.

The Swiatek backhand drive down the line was a big shot on pivotal points and she pumped that shot with self-assurance to save set point.

The third seed attacked off a low approach, but did not do enough at net. Swiatek shoveled a backhand pass down the line ending a wild and adventurous opening set that saw her come back from 1-4 down and save a set point.

The 90-minute opener was Swiatek’s 22nd consecutive set won in Doha—and spanned longer than several of her wins the past two years. Both women left the court for a well-deserved break.

The top seed hit three more winners—14 to 11—in the topsy-turvy set where sudden wind gusts swirled the ball into unpredictable places.

Given the physicality of the opening set, the world No. 1 figured to be the fresher finalist as Swiatek took a walkover from Karolina Pliskova into her third straight Doha final.

Swiatek survived a couple of break points—and a time violation warning—holding firm to level the second set after two games.

Targeting the 6’ Kazakh’s forehand swing, Swiatek hit behind Rybakina at times scoring two more break points in the third game. Facing a third break point, Rybakina hit a gutsy second serve and forehand winner to save it.

A persistent Swiatek drained successive forehand errors earning the first break of the second set for 2-1.

A confident Swiatek backed up the break at 15 for 3-1.

A tiring Rybakina couldn’t cope with an unrelenting Swiatek or the stiff breeze. She sailed successive shots as Swiatek scored her fifth break for 5-2 after two hours, 13 minutes.

On her second championship point, Swiatek soared to snap off a high backhand volley winner sealing her 12th straight win and 23rd consecutive set at the Qatar Open.

This title trip completion comes nearly a year to the day after Swiatek swept eight straight games punishing Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-0 to successfully defend her Doha title with dominance in the 2023 final.


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