Rybakina rolls past Collins in comeback win
TOP Abu Dhabi seed Elena Rybakina fought back from a set down to defeat American qualifier Danielle Collins and reach the quarter finals of the WTA 500 event. Taking on the powerful former Australian Open finalists and top 10 player, Rybakina found herself a set down before working her way back into it to salute, 4-6 6-3 6-3.
The match lasted two hours and 17 minutes, with Rybakina looking to bounce back after failing to defend her points at the Australian Open from her 2023 final appearance. In that run to the decider, Rybakina knocked off Collins for the first time in the third round with a 6-2 5-7 6-2 victory. Last month, the Kazakhstan talent made it a 2-1 head-to-head with another come-from-behind 5-7 6-2 6-3 victory en route to a title in Adelaide.
She will be hoping defeating Collins and reaching the final of an event is an omen, as she advanced to the quarter finals at the WTA 500 tournament. The world number five was out of sync early, while by comparison, Collins was ridiculous on serve. The American won a whopping 15 of 16 points off her first serve, and only dropped six points off her second to save both break point opportunities for the top seed.
Rybakina was solid by winning two thirds of her first serve points off an impressive 75 per cent clip, but only won four of eight off her second serve and a crucial break proved costly. In the second set she lifted her level and Collins’ dominance on serve dropped right off, as the qualifier went from 94 per cent to 38 per cent from her first serve, and only won 14 of 33 in total off her serve (42 per cent). Rybakina on the other hand won 55 per cent and broke three times to Collins’ twice in the set.
The deciding set was more even, particularly in the service area as both players won 58 per cent of their first serve points, but while Collins’ efficiency (72 per cent) was better), Rybakina was far more consistent off her second serve with eight of 12 points won compared to Collins’ thee of 10. It led to the Kazakhstan talent winning three breaks of serve to the American’s one, and taking out the match in another tight three-set contest.
After starting the match with 12 winners to five unforced errors, Collins’ level dropped to record just 16 more winners across the next two sets, to her 22 unforced errors. For Rybakina, she lifted for 20 winners and only 12 unforced errors in the same period.
Rybakina will now take on surprise lucky loser, Spaniard Cristina Bucsa who is making the most of her second chance after downing British qualifier Heather Watson in straight sets, 7-6 7-5 to reach the quarter finals. Bucsa was huge off her first serve, winning 78 per cent of the points and breaking three times to two, stepping up when it counted late in both sets.
In the other two matches, eighth seeded Russian Liudmila Samsonova brushed past Ukrainian Anhelina Kalinina, only dropping four games in a 68-minute rout, while fourth seed Barbora Krejcikova won via retirement against Sara Sorribes Tormo when leading 6-2 1-0 in the second set.
ABU DHABI WTA 500 | ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
 Elena Rybakina (KAZ) defeated [Q] Danielle Collins (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-3
 Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) defeated [LL] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 6-2 1-0 RET
 Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) 6-1 6-3
[LL] Cristina Bucsa (ESP) defeated Heather Watson (GBR) 7-6 7-5