‘That’s for dad’: Sabalenka dedicates Qatar title to late father

Aryna Sabalenka says father Sergey is her biggest motivation. (AP pic)

DOHA: Aryna Sabalenka won her sixth career title on Saturday when she swept past former two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3 in the Qatar Open final and dedicated victory to her father who died last year.

The Belarusian ninth seed’s win over the eighth-seeded Czech, who was Qatar champion in 2018, will see her rise to 11 in the world rankings on Monday.

The 21-year-old said the memory of her father Sergey, who died in November, was very much in her mind on Saturday.

“It was a long journey here and I put everything on tennis,” Sabalenka told WTA’s website as she described the influence of her father.

“I was actually only playing tennis and focusing on tennis and nothing else. And I think I gave everything for tennis.

“And I just lost my dad in the pre-season and he was my biggest motivation, and I’m doing it for him.”

Sabalenka fired seven aces and 21 winners past Kvitova who was playing in her 37th WTA final.

“Aryna played an amazing match,” said Kvitova.

“She didn’t give me anything for free, I had a chance once in the second set to break her serve, but I just couldn’t make it.”