Svitolina races past Kasatkina to retain Dubai title

No.1 seed Elina Svitolina became the first player to defend the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title in eight years with a solid 6-4, 6-0 defeat of unseeded Daria Kasatkina. That battle stretched to three hours and Muguruza only secured victory by winning the final set tiebreak.

"I'm remaining positive, I managed to play a lot of matches, good ones, final and semifinal". "When I had to play well, I played well". "It really motivated me".

Between sets, Kasatkina's coach Philippe Dehaes paid a visit to his player giving her one special pep talk. "I was just trying to hit the ball into the court, just trying to make a rally, in the end I was very happy the way I handled the pressure throughout the week". She tried to find space from the back but the Russian was forced to hit wide the final down the line backhand of the set. She was fighting really, really hard.

Acknowledging the fans' support, she said: "Thanks everybody for coming, I'm playing for you".

It was the 11th singles title for the 23-year-old Svitolina, who had won a tour-high five titles in 2017, and added Brisbane to that list earlier this year.

She will meet top seed and defending champion Elina Svitolina in the final, after the Ukrainian beat Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.

The Spaniard broke in the sixth game of the second to take a 4-2 lead.

Yet another double-fault gifted another break to Svitolina, who still could not find her range on her vulnerable second serves which implied that she failed to consolidate the break yet again.

The world No. 24 was in denial again fending off three set points in the ninth game today including a stretched forehand victor eliciting a roar from fans. Another break in the seventh game, earned her a place in the final.

Svitolina will seek her second title of the year against the surprising Russian Daria Kasatkina.

"It was a solid performance - maybe not fantastic tennis, but I was pretty solid".

The 20-year-old Kasatkina came into the match after playing for more than nine hours in previous rounds this week, saving five match points over two matches.

Perhaps, the result could have been a surprise to some, due to the fact that Svitolina was not playing her best tennis throughout the week while Kerber was simply firing on all cylinders. "I think that's what helped her today".

The doubles title went to the unseeded pair of Hao-Ching Chan and Zhaoxuan Yang, who defeated fourth seeds Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng, 4-6, 6-2, 10-6.

Vanessa Coleman

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