Sunday, February 25, 2024

Kasatkina slams ‘terrible’ WTA scheduling after making Abu Dhabi final

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Abu Dhabi (AFP) – Daria Kasatkina called out the WTA and organisers of the tour’s member tournaments for “terrible scheduling” after she booked her place in the Abu Dhabi Open final with a gruelling three-hour victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia on Saturday.

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Kasatkina will face top-seeded Elena Rybakina in the title decider on Sunday and is due on court the following day in Doha for her opening-round clash with fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at the Qatar Open.

It is a situation Kasatkina described as “unfair” to the players, noting that it could result in an increased risk of injury.

“It’s terrible scheduling, honestly,” said Kasatkina, who is through to her second final of the season after a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2) win over Brazil’s Haddad Maia.

“I don’t know how you can schedule the finals of the tournament on Sunday, wanting to finish the next tournament on Saturday, so you start it on Sunday, and like this, the player, if like me, you don’t have a bye in Doha, I have to play on Monday. And I play finals tomorrow at 5pm.

“We don’t have yet this technology that I can just do like this (snaps her fingers) and be in Doha in five seconds.”

Kasatkina is unsure whether she will be able to catch a flight on Sunday night from Abu Dhabi to Doha and has urged the tour and tournament organisers to consider adjusting the schedule moving forward.

“I have a question, I don’t know to who, to WTA or the tournaments, like, are you guys trying to make players die, or to get injured often?” asked Kasatkina.

“I might have to fly Monday and step on the court the same day, after playing five matches here at the highest level. So I’m sorry but that’s something we have to talk about and consider.”

‘I’m not crying’

Kasatkina, who will be targeting the seventh title of her career on Sunday, and first since 2022, acknowledges there is nothing that can be done for this year’s scheduling, given the first-round byes have already been set for the Qatar Open, with no chance for a performance bye to be added for her.

“We’re players, we’re humans and we’re trying to do our job the best we can. But under the circumstances it’s not very easy,” added the 26-year-old.

“I hope this question will be addressed to the right people. And I’m not crying, I’m just saying the facts and the facts are saying that it’s impossible, it cannot be like that.”

Meanwhile, Rybakina will not face the same scheduling issue brought up by Kasatkina, given she is a top-eight seed in Doha and has been awarded a first-round bye.

The former Wimbledon champion overcame last year’s Abu Dhabi runner-up Liudmila Samsonova 6-0, 4-6, 6-2 to move into her second final of the season. It was Rybakina’s first win in five meetings against Samsonova and she will now look to capture her second trophy of 2024.

“It was a really tough battle and I’m really happy that I managed to win in the end. I started pretty well the match, a few shots went my way, but in the second set my focus went a little down,” said Rybakina.

“It’s going to be a very tough match against Kasatkina. A completely different style of the game. I have to have really good footwork and play aggressively.”

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