Salkova edges Gibson as finalists crack Top 200

RISING WTA Tour stars Dominika Salkova and Talia Gibson have both earned their way into the Top 200 for the first time in their respective careers. The young guns reached the recent W75 Maribor final where the teenager Czech saluted in straight sets, 6-2 6-4.

Both players entered the tournament unseeded with Salkova ranked 204th in the world, two places ahead of fellow 19-year-old Gibson. The Australian has been a promising player for a few years now, and with 18-year-old Taylah Preston now at a career-high 134th in the world, Gibson is looking to keep in touch with her fellow young gun and rise up the ranks.

At Maribor, Gibson had three wins over seeds, including victories over second seed Jessika Ponchet and third seed Timea Babos without dropping a set en route to the final. Her opponent was coming off a successful 2023 where she won three ITF events – two on hard and one on clay – and rose up 63 spots in 12 months. Since the end of 2023 however, Salkova is now 83 spots higher and climbing.

Her latest title at Maribor saw her move 33 spots ahead on the rankings, becoming the 13th highest player from the Czech Republic. The 2004-born talent took home the title courtesy of a 6-2 6-4 win over Gibson, having only dropped one set on her way to the final.

While she had an easier run – after top seed and expected second round opponent Olivia Gadecki was shocked in the first round – she did not look back. Salkova knocked off three consecutive qualifiers, and then finished off Gibson in the final without breaking too much of a sweat along the way.

The Czech won 74 per cent of her first serve points and broke even off her second serve points, while Gibson struggled, winning just 48 per cent off her first serve. Creating a whopping 20 break point opportunities, Salkova took six of her chances which proved enough, even though she was broken three times by Gibson.

Able to string together five games in a row at one point through the first set, the Czech looked the more consistent of the pair, and was able to collect her 75 points and bolt into 171st in the world. Gibson followed her lead, earning 49 points for her finals appearance, which saw her go up 24 spots into 182nd in the world. She is now the eighth highest ranked Australian.

Meanwhile closer to home, it was a dominant Australian performance at Swan Hill in the W75 event. Seventh seed Gabriella Da Silva Fick took out some highly touted opponent on her way to the victory. She defeated top seed Maddison Inglis in a tough three-setter 6-3 3-6 6-1, while getting past outstanding teenager Emerson Jones in the final.

Da Silva Fick lost the first set against the 15-year-old, but soon worked her way back into the contest, only dropping four games for the rest of the match before storming to victory, 3-6 6-3 6-1. It marked her first ITF Tour victory, with the seventh seed moving up to 539th in the world and edging ever closer to her career-high of 460th.

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