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Samsonova defeats Rybakina, advances to NBO final against Pegula

Liudmila Samsonova Liudmila Samsonova - The Canadian Press

Liudmila Samsonova of Russia defeated Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 1-6, 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday afternoon to advance to the National Bank Open women’s singles final.

Up 4-2 in the third set, Samsonova broke Rybakina, who double-faulted and hit a shot long while tied at deuce, before serving out the match.

The semifinal was originally scheduled for Saturday evening but had to be pushed due to rainy weather in Montreal, which subsided on Sunday.

As a result, the 15th-seeded Samsonova will play two matches in one day, with the final scheduled for Sunday evening. Fourth seed Jessica Pegula of the United States awaits Samsonova in the final.

Pegula could benefit from having more rest than her opponent after beating world No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland in the first semifinal Saturday afternoon before the weather took a turn for the worse.

Although the early match Sunday went three sets, Samsonova won in one hour 43 minutes.

Rybakina, the tournament’s third seed, hit four aces and converted two break points to cruise to a first-set victory.

Samsonova hit four aces of her own in the second set while Rybakina struggled, double-faulting four times and only getting 39.1 per cent of first serves in play.

Samsonova carried that momentum into the third, jumping out to an early break before winning the set.

Rybakina had faced a difficult schedule due to the weather this week in Montreal, including a three-hour 27-minute marathon against Daria Kasatkina of Russia that wrapped up at 3 a.m. local time on Saturday morning.

Montreal tournament director Valerie Tetreault told reporters that Rybakina was in favour of possibly playing two matches Sunday instead of playing late Saturday night, while Samsonova would have preferred to play the match Saturday.

“With the WTA people we needed to make a decision around 8 o'clock or 8:30 in the evening (Saturday),” said Tetreault. “We knew Rybakina had stayed very late in the night or very early in the morning, let's say, the day before.

“So we looked at the weather forecast, and we had no assurance that the match would be able to be played at a reasonable time.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2023.