x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Dubai Tennis Championships: Petra Kvitova makes her final case

Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova dispatched Caroline Wozniacki in just 82 minutes to earn a spot in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic hits a return to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their women's singles semi-final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic hits a return to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark during their women's singles semi-final match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday. Ahmed Jadallah / Reuters

DUBAI // On Thursday night, after her straight-set loss to Petra Kvitova, defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska talked about the difficulties of facing the Czech from the other side of the net.

"It is just two short balls and it's over," Radwanska said. "It's a bomb coming from the other side."

On Friday night, it was Caroline Wozniacki's turn to face those thunderbolts, mighty, whistling forehands that leave foes with little time to react.

The former world No 1 was found as wanting as Radwanska in Friday night's semi-final, losing the first set 6-3, 6-4 in 82 efficient minutes.

The manner of the win makes Kvitova a favourite to clinch her first Dubai crown when she meets Sara Errani in the final on Saturday.

She already boasts a 3-0 record against the Italian and has not dropped a set in her march to the final here.

"I'm really happy that I'm in the final and I'm really glad how I played," the 22-year-old world No 8 said. "I mean, it was great match."

Another great match today and Kvitova will win her first title of 2013 following a disappointing start, wherein she failed to win two consecutive matches at a tournament until Doha last week.

The unblemished record against Errani will certainly be a confidence boost, if she needed one, but the left-hander predicts a tough battle.

"She's a top-10 player and she's trying to play a little bit similar or she's trying to move well," Kvitova said.

"She has a good forehand with a big spin and is quite fast on the backhand. I think it will tough match."

Looking at the way Kvitova has played in her two matches, against the last two Dubai champions, not many would agree about her predictions for the final, though.

The results this week represent a marked turnaround in the UAE. Kvitova had not won a match in her two previous visits to Dubai, losing in the first round to Serena Williams in 2009 and Samantha Stosur in 2011.

This year, she has scalped two former world No 1s en route to today's final – Wozniacki and Ana Ivanovic.

Her current form is reminiscent her career-best run in the summer of 2011, when she won Wimbledon.

During her blazing sprint through the field at the All England Club, Kvitova had served 36 aces and a record 222 clean winners. The towering Czech, who stands 1.83 metres tall, climbed as high as No 2 in the rankings later that fall.

And it is not just Kvitova's forehand that seems a terror.

Her backhand can be as mean and then she often comes up with these deft touches at the net, which seem delivered with a smirk.

"Petra is a player that when she's on fire, she's on fire and she wins a lot of matches," said Wozniacki, the world No 10. "It was very difficult, especially in the first set. I didn't feel like I had many chances. She just went for every shot and hit it deep and I came under pressure straightaway."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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