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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 February 2019

Sara Errani, an unexpected winner, wins with a flourish in a flash at unpredictable Dubai

Sara Errani crushed Barbora Strycova 6-0, 6-2 on Saturday night in a dominant display in Dubai to capture the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships WTA title.
Sara Errani of Italy holds the trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final against Barbora Strycova on Saturday. Ali Haider / EPA / February 20, 2016
Sara Errani of Italy holds the trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final against Barbora Strycova on Saturday. Ali Haider / EPA / February 20, 2016

To think Sara Errani wasn’t even going to come to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“I was thinking maybe not to come here,” Errani said in the post-match press conference. “I was thinking of taking two or three weeks to relax, to recharge my energy.”

Errani’s decision to delay a rest could not have worked out any better after cruising through the final 6-0, 6-2 against Barbora Strycova last night to collect her ninth WTA title, and with it a winner’s cheque of $465,480 (Dh1.7m).

Also read: Ahmed Rizvi on Sara Erraniand her do-it-all, never-say-die style serving her well in Dubai

Also see: The National’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships landing page

After being on the receiving end of a Dubai final beating in 2013, it was Errani’s turn to dish out a thrashing of her own. Three years ago, Italian Errani suffered a 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 defeat to Petra Kvitova, but in her second appearance contesting for the title, she would make no mistake this time around.

In fact, describing it as a contest would be stretching it. In the space of one hour and eight minutes, Errani, the world No 22, hammered a completely out-of-sorts Strycova to become the first Italian to win the Dubai title. Errani is now expected to climb to No 17 in the world rankings.

For much of the week a picture of solidity, Strycova’s groundstokes deserted her when she needed them most. Her march to the final was based on an ability to disrupt her opponent’s rhythm with consistent baseline play and aggression at the net.

While any form of consistency was non-existent, each time Strycova approached the net, Errani read her like a book and passed her with ease.

“It was one of those days where you try everything and nothing is working,” Strycova said. “The funny thing is that I went on court and I didn’t feel nervous about the match.

“I tried everything and I couldn’t put one ball in. I don’t know why, or what happened, it’s just sometimes how it is in tennis.”

Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Strycova from the opening game, when she was broken to love. Errani, on the other hand, only faced one break point all set, and by that stage she was already 5-0 ahead.

At 2-0 down in the second set, the outlook was bleak for Strycova, but determined to watch a competitive final, the Centre Court crowd threw their support behind the 29-year-old Czech, who managed a wry smile in appreciation.

The support appeared to do the trick and after Strycova registered her first game of the match, she raised her arm in thanks to those in attendance.

However, it wasn’t long before Errani dashed any hope of a Strycova fightback when the Italian earned a second break in Game 5, and after two more service holds, Errani closed out the fastest final in the tournament’s history.

“It’s an unexpected title for me. It has been a tough moment, tough year so far,” said Errani, who prior to this week has won just two matches from four tournaments this season.

“To win here is amazing, it’s such a good tournament.”

A successful week may have ended in disappointment for Strycova, but she is remaining focused on the bigger picture rather than the blowout of a final.

“I took so many things from this week,” she said. “I can believe in myself and in my game, that I can beat anybody.

“To believe that you can do it, it’s good feeling. I beat Ana [Ivanovic], which I never did before. This gave me so much confidence. I am also enjoying tennis again.”

So another year for the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships has come to an end, and what an entertaining and unpredictable week it has been.

But if there is one thing we can safely predict for the 2017 tournament, Errani will not consider missing it again.

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Updated: February 20, 2016 04:00 AM

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