Holder Iga Swiatek will bid for a third consecutive title at the WTA Doha event on Saturday after strolling into the final without firing a shot when semi-final opponent Karolina Pliskova withdrew with a back injury.

World No. 1 Swiatek has won her last 11 matches at the Gulf venue and would become the first since Serena Williams a decade ago in Miami to lift three trophies on the trot at the same tournament.

“Sorry for the tournament that I had to withdraw, but unfortunately I had too many matches in the last couple of days,” Pliskova said

“My body just didn’t react well. I felt I was pushing it a little bit over the limit (in a quarter-final defeat of Naomi Osaka).

“”I felt a very big pain in my lower back, so I’m not able to compete anymore.”

Swiatek will clash for the title against nemesis Elena Rybakina in a battle of Grand Slam champions; the Kazak who won Wimbledon in 2022 has defeated Swiatek in their last three meetings, with the Pole retiring hurt in a Rome quarter-final nine months ago.

Rybakina booked her third final of the season (Brisbane, Abu Dhabi last week) by beating  Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 6-4.

Rybakina has won her last eight Tour matches and owns seven career titles with a 15-2 record this season. 

Rybakina lost a Roland Garros quarter-final to Pavlyuchenkova three years ago.

In Doha, Rybakina raced away to a 6-2, 5-1 lead but let it slip as her opponent ran off three straight games before finally going down to defeat after almost levelling at 5-all

The Kazak ended the affair with an ace on match point.