Web Stories Thursday, April 25

Anna Kalinskaya survived a late wobble to beat world No. 1 Iga Swiatek in straight sets and book her place in the final of the Dubai Championships.

The qualifier, who knocked out Coco Gauff in the last eight, took advantage of the errors that streamed from the Pole’s racquet to wrap up a 6-4 6-4 victory and set up a meeting with Jasmine Paolini.

Swiatek was going for a Middle East double after her Qatar Open triumph last week but was far from her best as she suffered her first defeat since the Australian Open.

She fought all the way to the end to force her opponent to serve it out at the second time of asking, but Kalinskaya sealed it with a sublime drive volley.

It was her third successive win over top-10 opponents for the 25-year-old, who is now into her maiden WTA final.

“She [Swiatek] is a great player and I know if I don’t stay calm and stay aggressive she is going to destroy me,” Kalinskaya said in her on-court interview. “So that was the plan, to stay aggressive, move her a lot and I’m happy I won.

“She is unbelievable and I’m happy I had the chance to play against her, and I’m sure we will play a lot in the future.”

Swiatek admits it’s ‘not easy being defending champion’ as she goes for Doha three-peat

It looked like business as usual for Swiatek when she broke to move 4-2 ahead in the first set but Kalinskaya roared back to win four games on the spin and take an early lead.

It was the first set the world No. 1 has dropped in the Middle East and since her shock third round exit in the Australian Open.

The qualifier kept the pressure on early in the second to secure an early break as Swiatek continued to struggle.

And rather than stumble, Kalinskaya grew with confidence. Of the two, she looked the more assured and moved within one of a place in the final when she broke in the seventh game of the second set.

On the verge of the biggest win of her career, Kalinskaya finally showed some signs of nerves, failing to convert two match points as Swiatek got one of the breaks back.

But she saved two break points to serve out the win at the second time of asking and continue her incredible run.

Looking ahead to the final against Paolini, she added: “She’s a great player, she fights every single ball. I played against her in Australia and it was a very difficult match.

“I hope it’s going to be a great match tomorrow and we will show our best.”

In the other semi-final, Paolini beat Sorana Cirstea 6-2 7-6(6) in little under two hours.

The Italian broke twice in a one-sided opening set before coming through a marathon second set that swung back and forth.

Cirstea served to force a decider at 6-5 ahead but couldn’t convert any of her five set points before Paolini prevailed 8-6 in the tie-break.

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