DUBAI 23 February 2019: Former winner 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 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.
“I wish I could play better,” said a crestfallen Svitolina. “I did some unforced errors in the moments where I not supposed to do errors. But I know she took her chance.”
Bencic is still working her way back up the rankings after suffering a number of injuries, and has impressed with the way she has fought her way through some tough challenges this week. In the third round she saved six match points against Aryna Sabalenka and then she battled her way through another three-set match to defeat Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.
“I’m just incredibly happy how I turn it around once again,” she said. “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. I think I did the right thing. Basically I stayed in the zone, even in 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, has struggled all week with all but one of her matches stretching to over two hours. She admits that, due to the distraction of having to appear in court at the trial of the person who attacked her in her home at the end of 2016, she had not prepared properly for the tournament. But now she is one win away from regaining her title.
“It was a tough one today, for sure,” said Kvitova. “She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I come back and play 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 going to recover.”
“It is remarkable that we are only in the middle of February, and Petra Kvitova is already playing her third final of the year, after winning the title in Sydney and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We congratulate Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic on reaching the final, and look forward to welcoming Hsieh Su-Wei and Elina Svitolina back next year. We still have the opportunity of seeing Su-Wei again this week as she is in the doubles final.”
“We have seen two wonderful semi-finals in which the result was in the balance until the very end,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak. “We can now look forward to an equally entertaining and well contested final. It should be a fantastic battle from two players who have amply demonstrated their quality and resilience throughout the week.”
The WTA event concludes on 23rd February, and will be followed from 25th February by a thrilling men’s event that is headed by seven-time champion Roger Federer, Australian Open semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas, defending champion and recent Doha winner Roberto Bautista Agut, former US Open winner Marin Cilic, Japanese No. 1 Kei Nishikori and two-time finalist Tomas Berdych.