Dubai 2019

Dubai 2019: Former champion Petra Kvitova will face unseeded Belinda Bencic

The Czech No1 will face her unseeded opponent in Saturday's final as she looks to win Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for a second time

Belinda Bencic (Photo: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)
Belinda Bencic (Photo: Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships)

Former Dubai champion, Petra Kvitova will face Belinda Bencic in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday after both claimed thrilling three-set victories. Kvitova defeated Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, and Bencic edged past two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(3).

Both matches stretched to more than two hours and had the crowd on the edge of their seats as fortunes swung one way and then the other.

Svitolina, who was bidding to become the first WTA player to win the title three years in a row, served for victory at 5-4 in the final set and then saved three match points at 6-5 before being outplayed in the tiebreak.

The No6 seeded Svitolina had made smooth progress through the week, barely dropping a game to Garbine Muguruza or Carla Suarez Navarro. But the in-form Bencic, working her way back up the ranks after wrist surgery in 2017 saw her teenage No7 ranking slip outside the top 300, has proven her fitness and quality through the week.

Bencic’s win over Svitolina followed three-set wins over No8 seed Aryna Sabalenka—saving six match points—and No3 seed Simona Halep, and without the bonus of a bye in the first round.

The 21-year-old admitted:

“I’m just incredibly happy how I turned it around once again. Somehow, I was still focused, I don’t know why. I had a big chance on the first match point. I went for too much… Basically I stayed in the zone, even in the tiebreak. I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

Kvitova, who won the title in 2013, had struggled all week, as all but one of her matches stretched to over two hours. She admitted that, due to the distraction of appearing in court at the trial of the person who attacked her two years ago, she had not prepared properly for the tournament. But now she is one win away from regaining the title.

She said:

“It was a tough one today, for sure. She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to come back in the second. I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calm when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set.

“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final tomorrow, so I don’t know how I’m going to recover.”

But the popular Czech has other reasons to be tired. She has made an impressive start to 2019, now into her third final of the season following her title run in Sydney and a final finish at the Australian Open.

She summed it up after her quarter-final win:

“I feel tennis is the way I can escape to other things. Maybe sometimes I don’t look like that I’m really enjoying being on the court and playing tennis, but inside I’m really enjoying it.

“To be honest, I think today was the first day of the better days hopefully to be on the court, off the court. Yeah, it’s been tough since I came from Australia and from St Petersburg. I’m glad that it’s on the way up.”

The final is at 7pm Saturday evening, following the doubles final between Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova and Su-Wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova at 5pm.

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