Tennis-Kalinskaya shocks Swiatek in Dubai to book final with Paolini

  • Tennis
  • Saturday, 24 Feb 2024

Tennis - WTA 1000 - Dubai Tennis Championships - Dubai Duty Free Tennis Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - February 23, 2024 Russia's Anna Kalinskaya in action during her semi final match against Poland's Iga Swiatek REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

(Reuters) - Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya continued her giant-killing run at the Dubai Tennis Championships by stunning world number one Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-4 on Friday to reach the final and inch closer to her maiden tour-level title.

Standing in Kalinskaya's way on Saturday will be unseeded Jasmine Paolini, who saved six set points late on in the other semi-final on Centre Court against Romanian Sorana Cirstea to win 6-2 7-6(6).

Australian Open quarter-finalist Kalinskaya fought from a break and 4-2 down and forced Swiatek into making a number of errors with relentless hitting in the first set which the 25-year-old wrapped up in a little under an hour.

The world number 40, who stunned U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff in the last round after outclassing 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko, broke early in the second set as Swiatek continued to spray the errors.

A frustrated Swiatek threw her racket to the floor at one point before Kalinskaya went up 2-0 and the Russian withstood some late pressure to close out the victory and snap the Doha champion's seven-match winning run.

"She's a great player. I know if I don't stay calm and aggressive she's going to destroy me," Kalinskaya said.

"That was my plan. To stay aggressive, move her a lot. I'm happy I won. She's unbelievable. I'm happy I had the chance to play against her. I'm sure we'll play a lot in the future."

Paolini had reached the semi-finals after in-form fourth seed Elena Rybakina pulled out of their quarter-final clash on Thursday due to illness and the 26th-ranked Italian wrapped up the first set against an off-colour Cirstea in 40 minutes.

Both players traded breaks freely in the second set as Cirstea, who battled back from the brink several times to beat Marketa Vondrousova in the last eight, drew level at 5-5 from 2-4 down after saving a match point with a backhand rocket.

The world number 22 got her nose in front but dropped serve in a wildly swinging 12th game, where she wasted five chances to level at one set apiece and was dragged into a tiebreak.

Paolini would not be denied from there as she saved another set point to prevail.

"I gave you a little bit of drama at the end of the match. I was a little bit nervous," said Paolini, who will break into the top 20 on Monday.

"She's a great player, she was starting to hit winners. I was worried a bit because she had an amazing comeback yesterday. I'm really happy I managed to win in the tiebreak."

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru)

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