Tennis-Rybakina targets deep run at Roland Garros after Rome triumph

Tennis - Italian Open - Foro Italico, Rome, Italy - May 21, 2023 Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina celebrates with the Italian Open trophy after winning her final match against Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

ROME (Reuters) - Elena Rybakina will head to the French Open with the confidence that she can be as effective on clay as she is on the other two surfaces with her booming serve and groundstrokes after the Kazakh world number six won the Italian Open on Saturday.

The Moscow-born 23-year-old bagged her second title of 2023 after her Indian Wells triumph and fifth overall when Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina retired while trailing 6-4 1-0.

Wimbledon champion Rybakina became the sixth woman since the introduction of the WTA 1000 format in 2009 to win a Grand Slam or Masters title on every surface after Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza and Ash Barty.

"I think with my game, I can play good on all the surfaces," said Rybakina, who also reached the Australian Open and Miami finals this season.

"It's just maybe for clay I need to be ready more physically and have a lot of preparation which I don't always have the time for after the hardcourt season."

Rybakina reached the third round at Roland Garros last year and hoped playing in Paris would be easier this time.

"The tournament is pretty long. Hopefully I can go far. I have good memories playing there," Rybakina said.

"Now I've got more matches on clay, so it's a bit easier and there's a bit more confidence, definitely."

Kalinina, whose hopes of a first title were dashed due to a leg injury, said Rybakina had the qualities to succeed on clay.

"She's serving at 200 kph. She's making winners like no one on tour... anyone can win in Paris, but she has good chances," Kalinina said.

"She's an amazing player, a top player. I'm sure if she's going to (play) like this, maybe new world number one for sure."

The French Open begins on May 28.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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