Dubai Tennis 2019: Why Petra Kvitova must start well against Belinda Bencic to triumph in final
A lowdown on Saturday's WTA final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium as the world No 3 faces an opponent who has beaten three top-10 seeds so far this week
It is Petra Kvitova against Belinda Bencic in the WTA Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final on Saturday evening at 7pm.
Here is a breakdown of the final and why both women have strong cases for walking away from the tournament as champion.
How Kvitova got to the final
It has been a slog for the 2013 Dubai champion, something she has admitted herself.
Three of her four matches have gone to three-setters and there has been times, particularly in the last-16 clash with Jennifer Brady when she lost five games in a row in the second set, that she has looked badly out of sorts.
But she has survived. Even in the semi-final against Hsieh Su-Wei, when she lost the first set, she dug deep and it showed the fierce drive within the Czech.
How Bencic got to the final
The Swiss has beaten three top-10 seeds in a row to reach the final, all in spectacular contests.
She survived six match points to beat Aryna Sabalenka in the last 16, defeated world No 2 Simona Halep in the quarter-finals after dropping the first set and then came back from a break down in the final set to overcome defending champion Elina Svitolina in Friday's semi-final.
The world No 37 does not appear to know when she is beaten and a second Premier title, almost four years after her last one in 2015 in Toronto, is now just one win away.
On paper it should be Kvitova's match to lose, given she has won all three previous meetings with Bencic, most recently beating the Swiss in straight sets at the Australian Open in the third round.
Bencic is playing possibly the best tennis of her career. She has shown no fear in defeating players of the calibre of Halep and Svitolina and she has reminded everyone just why she was a top-10 player as long ago as 2016.
If Kvitova is slow out of the blocks, as she has been in some games this week, she may struggle to get this back as Bencic is by far her hardest challenge of the week.
If Bencic builds up early momentum it will be hard to pull her back, given her soaring confidence.
Kvitova has won twice this week after dropping the first set, but with all due respect to Katerina Siniakova and Hsieh, Bencic is playing at a higher level then both those players.
The two-time major Wimbledon champion has not played a seeded player on her run to the final. Bencic is not one either, but she has played like one.
This certainly should be closer then the 6-1, 6-4 win that Kvitova claimed in Melbourne just over a month ago.
If Kvitova can take control early on her quality she should see through, but Bencic's tenacity should not be underestimated.
Updated: February 23, 2019 11:45 AM