Rybakina warms up for Aussie Open with title run in Hobart

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HOBART, Australia (AP) — A year after failing to qualify for the Australian Open, Elena Rybakina will enter the season’s first major with a seeding and fresh off a title after beating Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7), 6-3 in the Hobart International final on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Rybakina surged more than 150 places in the WTA rankings in 2019 to finish at No. 37. She’ll enter the Australian Open, which starts Monday in Melbourne, as the 29th seed after reaching the final at the Shenzhen Open in China to start the 2020 season and capturing her second career title a week later.

Rybakina served 10 aces and was superior from the baseline against Zhang, who reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year and combined with Sam Stosur to win the doubles title at the Australian Open.

“It’s amazing. I’m really happy with my win because last week I had an opportunity. I was really motivated,” Rybakina said. “Of course I’m really happy and confident.”

Rybakina won’t get much time to dwell on her latest win, with only one day off before her first-round meeting against Bernarda Pera at Melbourne Park.

“Last year I lost first round in (qualifying) and this year I’m going to be seeded — that’s great. I’m just looking forward to Monday.”

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