With her eyes tilted toward the evening sky, Magdalena Rybarikova clasped her hands above her head as she walked to the net at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. It was a time to reflect on what she had just completed, a personal opportunity to gather her thoughts.
The unseeded 23-year-old from Slovakia finished an impressive run to the Citi Open title on Saturday night with a swift 6-1, 6-1 win over top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Rybarikova defeated each of the top three seeds on en route to the tournament championship.
It is the third career title and first this season for Rybarikova, who is ranked No. 102 in the world.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” she said. “Because especially the final, it narrows and it’s not easy. I was surprised how I was relaxed.”
Rybarikova relied heavily on her strong first serve, winning points on 95 percent of them. Her return was almost as impressive, as she broke Pavlyuchenkova’s serve five times.
In the first set, Rybarikova jumped ahead 3-0 and clinched the set with a 107-mph ace down the center. She recorded a pair of aces without double-faulting while her Russian opponent double-faulted twice without an ace.
It was more of the same in the second set, when Rybarikova won the first two games. She yielded just three points over the last three games and clinched the match by breaking Pavlyuchenkova’s serve.
“It was like I didn’t have anything to lose,” Rybarikova said. “I was very relaxed and I just played my game and I played very good today.”
As she sat for the post-match news conference, Rybarikova clutched a stuffed duck in her hands. She said the furry white toy is a good luck charm given to her a year ago by a friend. It replaced a stuffed bear she used to travel with — she said she always likes to keep something in her bag.
“I don’t know if it’s a he or she,” Rybarikova said. “But he’s very happy and I’m also very happy.”
In men’s singles, Alexandr Dolgopolov continued to move past his Olympic disappointment as he rolled over American Sam Querrey, 6-4, 6-4.
In Sunday’s final, the second-seeded Dolgopolov will meet German Tommy Haas, the fourth seed, who earlier defeated top-seeded Mardy Fish, 6-3, 7-5. Neither Haas nor Dolgopolov have lost a set all tournament. Their wins ensured that this year’s tournament, formerly known as the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, will not have its first American winner since Andy Roddick in 2007.
In June, Dolgopolov tweeted it was a shame that he was passed over by the Ukrainian Olympic committee. He was ranked No. 17 in the world at the time, but was not eligible for the London Games because he did not compete for his country in the Davis Cup.
“I’m concentrated on this week and trying to do my best,” said Dolgopolov, who is ranked 25th.
Saturday, Dolgopolov neutralized Querrey’s serve by playing quickly. He said Querrey’s serve and the added breeze made for a difficult return. But he made it look easy as he broke it twice without losing his own.
“It was just tough, it was an awkward style game,” Querrey said. “And it makes it very uncomfortable to play against.”
Haas’s win over Fish was his fourth in five meetings with the American and advanced him to his third ATP final of the year.
Treat Huey, who played World Team Tennis for the Washington Kastles, teamed with Dominic Inglot to reach the men’s double final. A three-time All-Met, Huey is seeking his first career title.