x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Azarenka holds off Radwanska's comeback bid to reach final

The Belarusian books her place in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships by dispatching Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-3, 6-4.

DUBAI // Belarusian Victoria Azarenka booked her place in the final of the Dubai Tennis Championships by dispatching Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-3, 6-4 in a captivating encounter at the Aviation Club last night. Azarenka, ranked No 6 in the world, looked in control for the majority of the match and will now meet reigning champion Venus Williams tonight for a share of the US$2million (Dh7.34m) prize purse. The 20-year-old coped admirably with Radwanska's serve and forced her opponent to face a break-point in the first game, but with her opponent caught wrong-footed and the court gaping, Azarenka found the net.

The break may have gone begging, but it was a signal of intent, and the three-time title-winner took the lead soon after, returning Radwanska's clever drop-shot with a superb, stretching cross-court forehand that left the No 7 seed with no chance. Radwanska immediately broke back, but Azarenka looked intent on closing out the first set as quickly as possible and having played the angles to perfection, the Belarusian regained the lead. A love service game followed from her Polish opponent, but Azarenka served strongly before breaking the world No 9 again for the set.

Radwanska appeared more aggressive in the second set and looked determined to make more of a fight of it. After a series of splendid rallies, she quickly found herself leading 3-1, but Azarenka had more desire and pegged the Pole back to tie the set at 4-4, before winning her service game to receive for the match. With Radwanska's serve causing the her opponent few problems, Azarenka raced to match-point before Radwanska, who had never progressed past the first round in Dubai before this year, smashed the ball into the net to send the Belarusian into rapture, and into the final. gmeenaghan@thenational.ae