Elina Svitolina beats Daria Kasatkina to retain Dubai crown

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Elina Svitolina beat Darya Kasatkina 6-4, 6-0 on Saturday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship. (AP)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Top-seeded Elina Svitolina retained her Dubai Championships title on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-0 win over unseeded Daria Kasatkina, who was finally unable to make a comeback.

It was the 11th singles title for the 23-year-old Svitolina, who had won a tour-high five titles in 2017, and added Brisbane to that list earlier this year. The fourth-ranked Ukrainian improved to 14-2 for the year.

Kasatkina saved two match points to beat seventh-seeded Johanna Konta in the second round, and three against second-seeded Garbine Muguruza in the semifinals.

But Svitolina was too strong for her Russian opponent in the 70-minute match, including an on-the-run, backhand cross-court shot in the fourth game and a forehand down the line in the seventh.

"I am very pleased with the performance throughout the week," said Svitolina. "When I had to play well, I played well. I did good at important moments. I was serving good, returning well, getting lots of balls back ... Maybe not amazing tennis, but I was pretty solid. It was enough."

Svitolina became the third player in the history of the tournament to successfully defend her title after Justine Henin (2003 and 2004) and Venus Williams (2009 and 2010).

"It feels amazing to have my name with them," Svitolina said. "It really motivated me."

Svitolina made the all-important break in the fifth game of the first set, and quickly asserted her dominance in the second by going 5-0 up with three breaks, the third coming at love. She then comfortably served out the match.

Coming into the match, Kasatkina had spent a total of 545 minutes on court — against 297 for Svitolina, who also benefited from a first-round bye. But the Russian refused to blame tiredness for her lackluster performance in the final.

"It just happened. It's okay. If you are a top player, you are getting byes, and you are going through the first round. It is what it is," said Kasatkina. "It was tough. I think Elina, she was the toughest opponent for this final."

Despite the loss, the 20-year-old Kasatkina's run in the tournament ensures she will move inside the top 20 when the rankings come out on Monday.

Svitolina had won both previous matchups with Kasatkina who was aiming for her second career singles title.

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