Match Recap from Announcer Andy Taylor, Voice of the Qatar Total Open
Aryna Sabalenka captures the Falcon
Tremendous Doha debut for Aryna Sabalenka, winning five straight to capture the 2020 Qatar Total Open title — her 6th WTA Singles title overall and 3rd Premier-5 title. Last year, Sabalenka’s doubles partner and fellow US Open Champion Elise Mertens defeated Simona Halep to lift the Falcon. This year, Aryna unleashed her inner-barbarian, aggressively conquering 2018 Champion Petra Kvitova in straight-sets.
Ultimately, game-4 of set-2 determined the match. In the 10-minute service game, Aryna saved 5 break points, finally sealing the hold with back-to-back aces. After that, Kvitova managed only a single hold the rest of the way. Even a well-timed Medical Timeout couldn’t slow Sabalenka’s momentum.
I mean, I respect her, I knew she is a big fighter, I know she will bring everything she have on this final. I was just focused, really focused on each point and played every point like the last point and like I’m actually losing. That was the secret, I think.
– Aryna Sabalenka, 2020 Qatar Total Open Champion
Nearly back in the Top-10. On the Hunt for Slam Success
On Monday, Aryna will climb to World #11. It’s interesting — she’s struggled in Singles at the Majors. Last month, she fell to Carla Suarez Navarro in Round-1 of the Australian Open. However, a pattern has emerged.
Typically a month after those early Slam exits, she lifts a trophy. Back in August, she fell in Round-2 of the US Open. A month later, she scored a huge upset over World #1 Ashleigh Barty, then defended her title in Wuhan. Additionally, a month after last season’s 1st-Round loss at Wimbledon, she reached the Final in San Jose.
While the titles are nice, there’s no question she’d trade a few of those trophies for a deep-run on one of the sport’s four biggest stages. Those who’ve seen her play live know: Deep-runs at the Slams will come. Sooner, rather than later.
Head to Head: Fourth meeting between these two top talents
 Aryna Sabalenka -13- (BLR) | Championship Announcer Introduction
A 2-time Premier-5 Champion – Tonight, she is competing in her second consecutive Premier-5 Final – earning four relentless victories to reach the championship match. Last season, she captured 3 of her 5 career Singles titles, including the year-end WTA Elite Trophy, and cracked the top-10 for the first time. In Doubles, she and partner Elise Mertens won the Indian Wells-Miami Sunshine Double – and became Grand Slam Champions at the US Open. Last September, she defeated World #1 Ashleigh Barty en-route to her 2nd Wuhan Open title. Last month, she earned her 12th career top-10 victory with a win over Simona Halep in Adelaide. Fired-up for her 10th WTA Tour Final – from Belarus, please welcome Aryna Sabalenka.
- FF — W |  Petra Kvitova -11- (CZE) | Score: 6-3, 6-3
- SF — W | Svetlana Kuznetsova -46- (RUS) | Score: 6-4, 6-3 | RECAP
- QF — W | Saisai Zheng -37- (CHN) | Score: 3-6, 7-6(2), 6-3 | RECAP
- R3 — W |  Maria Sakkari -20- (GRE) | Score: 6-3, 6-0 | RECAP
- R2 — W | Anett Kontaveit -22- (EST) | Score: 7-5, 2-6, 7-5 | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
Announcer Corner | Doha: Aryna Sabalenka
This week, Aryna Sabalenka was excited to be here for the first time. She’s even more excited knowing that she and long-time Doubles partner Elise Mertens will be featured side-by-side as Doha Singles Champions.
Last season, Aryna took a week off between Fed Cup and Dubai. Meanwhile, Elise Mertens captured the Doha Singles title behind three top-10 upsets. In the Quarters, Mertens bested World #8 Kiki Bertens. In the Semi’s, she upset World #6 Angelique Kerber. And in the championship match – down a set and a break – Elise came back to defeat top-seed and World #3 Simona Halep.
The 9-seed this week, Aryna got off to a fortunate start in her Doha debut. After Halep’s victory in the Dubai Final Saturday night, Simona withdrew from the Qatar Total Open. That withdrawal granted Aryna a 1st-Round Bye. Rested and ready, she opened her campaign in Round-2 versus Anett Kontaveit, who had battled for an hour and 39-minutes with Anastasija Sevastova the day before. Anette launched a stellar comeback in set-2, but Aryna proved too stong in the 3rd – winning the match with a late break in the decider.
After a quick win over Maria Sakkari and Thursday’s tense battle with an inspired SaiSai Zheng, Sabalanka defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach her 3rd Premier-5 Final. 17-months ago, she reached the championship match of a Premier-5 event for the first time in Wuhan, and won the title. She defended that title back in September. With tonight’s Doha title, she remains undefeated in Premier-5 Finals.
Aryna Sabalenka | Overcoming heartbreak and continuing to excel
It’s encouraging to see Sabalenka’s continued success. She had a terrible off-season. Shortly after winning the year-end WTA Elite Trophy in Zhuhai, her father unexpectedly passed away at just 43 years old. Suddenly she found herself without the encouraging rock who introduced her to the game. Aryna’s Dad always pushed her, with unquestioned belief that she could one day become World #1.
Her determined persistence this season is a tribute to her Dad’s love and support. While she fell early in Shenzhen during week-1 – the following week she upset Simona Halep to reach the Adelaide Semifinals. Earlier this month, she partnered with Aliaksandra Sasnovich to earn a thrilling, deciding-set tiebreak victory over the Netherlands, lifting Belarus into the Fed Cup Finals this April. Tonight, she won her 6th career WTA Singles title.
Like Amanda Anisimova and Jelena Ostapenko – who also lost their Dads in the last 6-months – Aryna continues to fight, honoring her father’s years of sacrifice, helping her pursue greatness.
 Petra Kvitova -11- (CZE) | Championship Announcer Introduction
She is a 2-time Wimbledon Champion, a 3-time Grand Slam Finalist, an Olympic Bronze Medalist – and has lifted her country to the Fed Cup title SIX times in the past 9-years. Two-years-ago on this court, she lifted Doha’s famous falcon for the first time – defeating World #1 Caroline Wozniacki in the Semi’s, then Garbine Muguruza in the Final. Last night, she eliminated World #1 Ashleigh Barty in the Semi’s – and is back in the championship match behind 10 consecutive Doha victories. Remarkable. In all, she owns 27 career Singles titles, has been ranked as high as World #2, and tonight – marks her 37th WTA Tour Final. From the Czech Republic – please welcome 2018 Doha Champion, Petra Kvitova.
- FF — L |  Aryna Sabalenka -13- (BLR) | Score: 3-6, 3-6
- SF — W |  Ashleigh Barty -01- (AUS) | Score: 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 | RECAP
- QF — W | [WC] Ons Jabeur -44- (TUN) | Score: 7-6(2), 7-6(4) | RECAP
- R3 — W | Jelena Ostapenko -42- (LAT) | Score: 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 | RECAP
- R2 — W | Carla Suarez Navarro -70- (ESP) | Score: 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 | RECAP
- R1 — BYE
Announcer Corner | Doha: Petra Kvitova
In 2018, Petra was unstoppable. She came into Doha on a 7-match win streak, after winning St. Petersburg and both of her Fed Cup Singles Rubbers in Prague. She opened her Premier-5 run with a win over Cagla Buyukakcay, then outlasted Agnieszka Radwanska after losing a tough 1st-set tiebreak. Petra then took-out World #3 Elina Svitolina, World #10 Julia Görges, World #1 Caroline Wozniacki, and up-ended World #4 Garbine Muguruza in the championship match. She extended her win-streak to 14-matches at Indian Wells, before falling to 16-year-old Amanda Anisimova in the 3rd-Round of the BNP Paribas Open. Kvitova won 5-titles that year and made her triumphant return to the top-10, after 2016’s knife attack nearly ended her extraordinary career.