Aryna Sabalenka extended her winning streak to nine matches to not only claim the Linz title but push Serena Williams out of the top 10 in WTA Rankings.
The Belarussian defeated Elise Mertens 7-5, 6-2 in the final of the Linz Open on Sunday to claim back-to-back titles.
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Sabalenka’s sensational finish to the season means she replaces 23-time major champion Serena Williams at No 10 in Monday’s WTA rankings and secures her first year-end top-10 finish.
Having begun the week 35 points short of Serena’s tally of 4080 points, Sabalenka needed to reach the finals in Linz to secure her top-10 place. The 22-year-old not only ticked that box, but she finished an up and down season with two titles.
Her 3️⃣rd title in 2020 🏆 @SabalenkaA defeats the No.2 seed Mertens, 7-5, 6-2.#WTALinz pic.twitter.com/FVUa56naiL
— wta (@WTA) November 15, 2020
Sabalenka ties Simona Halep for most titles won this season, navigating a tricky opening set to outlast the No.2 seed to win her eighth career title in one hour and 42 minutes on Centre Court.
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For Serena, who turned 39 in September, it has been a forgettable year.
She won the ASB Classic in New Zealand at the beginning of 2020, which happened to be her only title this season. At the Grand Slams, which are all that matters to the American now, Serena didn’t quite live up to her high standards.
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She lost in the third round of the Australian Open and withdrew before her second-round clash against Tsvetana Pironkova at Roland Garros. Her best performance again came at the home Slam, the US Open.
Playing in front of empty stands at the Billie Jean King Centre, Serena made it as far as the semi-finals. But she again fell short of the elusive 24th major, which would have helped her tie with Margaret Court for the all-time record of most number of singles majors.
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Serena has not won a major since she returned to the tour after childbirth and will now finish the season just outside the top 10.