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Italian Open: Rybakina reigns in Rome after Kalinina retires with injury

Elena Rybakina won her second 1000-level event of the season in Rome as Kalinina’s run came to a sad end

Elena Rybakina, Rome 2023 Elena Rybakina, Rome 2023 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Internazionali BNL d'Italia •Final • completed
See draw

The showpiece of the women’s Italian Open ended prematurely, after being delayed all day due to rain, as Kalinina was forced to retire early in the second set (6-4, 1-0 ab.). Elena Rybakina became a deserved champion as a result, having demonstrated her clay-court prowess across the fortnight in Rome.

The Kazakh will now enter the top five, and has delivered an ominous message to the rest of the WTA field, backing up her formidable grass and hard court pedigree with a scintillating display of power and precision on the Italian clay.

Kalinina and Rybakina, Rome 2023
Kalinina and Rybakina, Rome 2023 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Rybakina took the first set 6-4, and was leading 1-0 in the second when Kalinina, who will enter the world’s top 25 after her brilliant run in Rome, had to retire with injury in what was a sad end to a chaotic, weather-disrupted day of tennis.

The Kazakh was handed a relatively smooth run through the draw, having been the benefactor of three walkovers en route to the title.

Rybakina threatens Swiatek’s crown

Ahead of her victory, the Kazakh beat Italian Jasmine Paolini (7-6 (4), 6-1), Russian Anna Kalinskaya (4-3 ret.), Czech Marketa Vondrousova (6-3, 6-3), Pole Iga Swiatek, the top seed (2-6, 7-6 (3), 2-2 ret.) and Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, the No 20 seed (6-2, 6-4).

However, this does little to detract from some breathtaking shot-making across the fortnight from Rybakina, something that has become a regular feature of the Wimbledon champion’s powerful game.

She will now head into Roland-Garros as someone who poses a genuine threat to Iga Swiatek’s crown.

Kalinina, meanwhile, can take a huge amount of pride from a milestone tournament in the Italian capital.

The Ukrainian defeated Russian Anna Blinkova (6-2, 6-2), American Sofia Kenin (6-4, 6-2), American Madison Keys, the No 19 seed (2-6, 6-2, 6-4), Brazilian Beatriz Haddad Maia, the No 12 seed (6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3) and Russian Veronika Kudermetova, the No 11 seed (7-5, 5-7, 6-2) in the previous rounds of the Rome tournament.

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