Stuttgart | Rybakina cruises to 3rd title of the season

Elena Rybakina cruised through the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final on Sunday, blasting past a tired Marta Kostuyk, 6-2 6-2, in 70 minutes before being driven off the ramp onto the court in her new lavender Porsche Taycan 4S Sport Turismo in front of a capacity crowd because she has not driver’s licence.

I knew that I have to be focused from the beginning, and also, compare the match with Iga, it's a lot different. Marta is coming forward, trying to take the ball early. She moves well. But still, the speed is different, and I was focusing not to rush, also to try to open the angle. Elena Rybakina

“I’m really happy with all the matches I played here throughout the week, especially in the final. Was very solid from me,” Rybakina told reporters on Sunday. “I think just the consistency, of course, and how I’m managing to play all these tournaments till the end, because it’s really tough with the schedule which we have, with all the jet lags and changes of the surface.

“It’s been a lot of matches, and I’m happy that for now I’m managing to fight through all these tough matches and be able to be in the finals.”

The World No 4 picked up her 3rd title of the season after upsetting Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals in a 3-set thriller at the Prosche-Arena.

It is, in fact, is her 8th career tournament success, 3 of which have come on clay courts.

“For me, it has been a very good start to the clay-court season,” said the overjoyed champion who received the winner’s trophy from Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche AG. “I hope it’ll continue the same way. Then I’ll be one of the big favourites for the French Open.

“It was an amazing week here in Stuttgart. It’s all the nicer that I’ve finished it off with the title. I’m already looking forward to coming back next year.”

The 24-year old now wants to pass her driving test in time for next April, so, if she can successfully defend her title in 2025, she will be able to drive the winner’s Porsche herself onto Centre Court after the final.

Unseeded Marta Kostyuk admitted to fatigue in the final after her impressive run this week in Stuttgart

© Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

The Wimbledon 2022 champion had little trouble in seeing off Marta Kostyuk to win the WTA 500 tournament on Sunday, adding to her titles at the Brisbane International and the Abu Dhabi Open.

The Russian-born Kazakh has also reached the final in Doha and Miami this year.

Asked if her run of good results had given her belief in her ability to win next month’s French Open, Rybakina said: “I always believe in myself, of course, but it not only depends on me. There is a lot of great players, tough opponents.

“But I know, if I feel fresh, if I’m physically ready, healthy, I’m playing my game, of course I have all the chances to win Grand Slam on any surface.”

Without doubt, Rybakina is a strong contender to challenge for this year’s French Open title, especially since her winning head-to-head record against Swiatek, the 3-time champion, was extended to 4-2 after she snapped the World No 1’s 10-match winning streak in Stuttgart with a convincing 6-3 4-6 6-3 upset in the semi-finals.

Stuttgart champion Elena Rybakina (C), poses with runner-up Marta Kostyuk (R) and Porsche CEO Oliver Blume during the trophy ceremony after the WTA 500 final on Sunday

© Thomas Kienzle/AFP via Getty Images

She had way too much power and precision for Kostyuk, whose muted performance was due, in part, to fatigue after some intense matches on her route to the final.

“I think 90% my tiredness played a role today,” the unseeded Ukrainian said. “Every morning I didn’t know what to expect from myself on the court today, because, really, me being able to pull off this whole week and play an amazing tennis yesterday was something incredible, and something I would never expect I can do.

“But today, you know, obviously I was very nervous. I wanted to win a lot this one, and yeah, I think there were a lot of things together. Yeah, I just couldn’t probably bear it anymore.

“Of course, it’s not like I was giving up at the end, but on the match points I was, like, you know you got to fight till the end, because what if she just falls now and she cannot get up and you win?

“But this is the only thing you can really do in these moments, because you can be delusional, but, to a certain point. I’m not that delusional yet to believe in something like this, yeah, because it was really a tough, tough week for me. You know, I had a very, very good player on the other side.

“Yeah, I was fighting, but I still, you know, I don’t feel like I believed in a miracle today.”

21-year old Kostyuk has had a great week, though, defeating 3 Top 8 players, in Marketa Vondrousova, the World No 8, Zheng Qinwen, No 7, and 3rd-ranked Coco Gauff, but fell short in the final against the World No 4.

The Ukrainian reached the final after playing for over 10 hours since her debut on Wednesday against Laura Siegemund until the semi-finals on Saturday.

It took Elena Rybakina just 70 minutes to dispatch Marta Kostyuk in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix final on Sunday

© Alex Grimm/Getty Images

From the outset in Sunday’s final, Rybakina applied pressure on Kostyuk’s serve, and grabbed the opening game, before being barely troubled from thereon in.

“I knew that I have to be focused from the beginning, and also, compare the match with Iga, it’s a lot different,” Rybakina said. “Marta is coming forward, trying to take the ball early.

“She moves well. But still, the speed is different, and I was focusing not to rush, also to try to open the angle.”

With efficient serving, the tour’s ace leader sealed the set after just 30 minutes, and, for the match, she lost just 1 point behind her first delivery, 15 out of 16, while she did not face a single break point as Rybakina pocketed 30 points to Kostyuk’s 17.

The Ukrainian could only manage to win only 50% of her service points and 31% of her return points, while, in the crucial moments, she also lacked efficiency, squandering her 3 break points while conceding her service 4 times out of the 6 chances that Rybakina had.

Striking her powerful groundstrokes, the Kazakh simply dominated the rallies and showed her class in the few crunch moments before converting her 3rd match point, and then raising her arm in celebration to her box.

Doubles champions Hao-Ching Chan & Veronika Kudermetova (R) pose with Barbara Frankel, Member the Board of Directors, Procurement (C), and finalists Ulrikke Eikeri & Ingrid Neel (L)

Kostyuk finishes the tournament as the new World No 21, her best career ranking, following her recent appearances in tournaments such as the final in the San Diego Open, the semi-finals in Indian Wells, and now the final in Stuttgart.

While Rybakina remains ranked No 4, she has narrowed the gap to within 142 points of Swiatek, who holds the top spot in the Race to the WTA Finals, and has a chance to move ahead of the Pole by bettering her performance at next week’s Madrid Open.

Other notable names in the upper echelons on the WTA Race are Emma Navarro, at No 13 and ranked 21, and Great Britain’s Katie Boulter, who is up at No 21 in the Race after her impressive start to this year.

Boulter’s fellow Brit, Emma Raducanu, enjoys a big rankings rise on Monday after her run to the Stuttgart quarter-finals, when moves up 82 places to No 221, with her WTA Race position of No 58 confirming she is making strides forward in 2024.

In the doubles final in the Porsche Arena, Taipei’s Hao-Ching Chan & Veronika Kudermetova from Russia came from a set and a break down to defeat Norwegian Ulrikke Eikeri & Ingrid Neel from Estonia, 4-6 6-3 [10-2] to lift the trophy.



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