Svitolina battles past Kerber, Wozniacki awaits in Dubai final

Seventh seed Elina Svitolina won her third straight encounter with top seed Angelique Kerber, leveling their head-to-head record to 5-5, and set up a meeting with Caroline Wozniacki in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The semifinal between Kerber and Svitolina started despite the lurking rain, but just two points into the match, showers swept players off the court. Luckily, the match quickly resumed and the first to take charge was Svitolina with a 3-1 lead. Kerber managed to recover to 3-all, but Svitolina raced away with the rest of the set, as Kerber hit five double faults to zero aces, compared to Svitolina’s zero double faults to two aces — that’s a difference of seven points, almost two games. Kerber was too prone to errors in the first set, committing 20 unforced ones, while scoring only nine winners.

In the second set, Svitolina was again a more confident player, while Kerber continued to make mistakes, although the German never stopped battling and managed to break Svitolina back to reduce the Ukrainian’s lead from 3-1 to 3-2. After Kerber’s off-court medical timeout, Svitolina regained her dominance and got in the position to serve for the match at 5-3. Evidently troubled by what looked like a knee injury, Kerber refused to give up and stayed in contention by winning three straight games. However, as the former world No.1 was serving for the set, with apparent restricted movement, Svitolina managed to force a tiebreak and finally won the match 6-3 7-6(3). Kerber needed to win the Dubai title in order to reclaim the top spot in the WTA rankings.

Svitolina and her next opponent Wozniacki have played just once so far, with the Ukrainian winning 5-7 6-4 7-6 (1) at the 2016 Miami Open.

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