Saturday’s Set Points, WTA Dubai: Elina Svitolina defends Dubai title

Saturday’s Set Points wraps up the week at the 2018 Dubai Duty Free Championships. I had a crazy busy week at work so wasn’t able to follow the tennis that closely and didn’t feel up to writing. I’m back home on the Isle of Wight for the weekend. I still call it home even though it’s not technically home! Read on for a quick recap of the final, my favourite match of the week and an update on Lucie. 

Elina Svitolina defends Dubai title

Svitolina won her second title of 2018 and extended her record in WTA finals to 11-2 (via Tennis Abstract) with a 6-4 6-0 win over Daria Kasatkina in Saturday’s Dubai final. The Russian player had looked very relaxed at the beginning but didn’t have the consistency to trouble Svitolina as fatigue seemed to set in during the second set. In a battle of the forehands, it was Svitolina’s that shone, and she didn’t drop serve once during the 70-minute contest.

Aside from losing a set in her first match of the week against Qiang Wang, it was a routine and uneventful run to the title for Svitolina. I’ve seen nothing to change my mind from my WTA predictions back in December. I’ve definitely come around because I honestly didn’t see this coming a few years back!

What a week for Kasatkina

The star of the week was undoubtedly, Daria Kasatkina. The 20-year-old, who will crack the world’s top 20 in next week’s ranking, saved multiple match points in wins over Johanna Konta in the second round (4-6 7-6(6) 6-2, saved 2 MPs) and Garbiñe Muguruza in the semi-finals (3-6 7-6(11) 6-1, saved 3 MPs). If you’re going to watch back anything from the week in Dubai then tune into the second set of Kasatkina-Muguruza – it was an absolute cracker! I don’t often enjoy watching matches back when I know the score, but this was a real treat.

It was very encouraging to see Kasatkina being a bit more aggressive with her forehand. It didn’t work today, yet I really like the intent and it’s becoming a weapon. The wins over Konta and particularly Muguruza were absolutely huge and I hope they will help with building Dasha’s confidence and belief.

Changeover chats with Dasha and Philippe

I didn’t think anyone could get close to Vladimir Platenik in changeover chats with Dasha but Philippe Dehaes is damn good! I like how he poses her questions, talks tactics thoughtfully and makes her laugh. He’s very inspiring with his words and it is clear Dasha is listening to everything and taking it all in. I loved what he had to say after the first set of the final.

Get well soon, Lucie!

In her latest feature for Tennis Channel, Lucie Safarova confirmed she had been dealing with a virus in Dubai. In a strange way I was kind of relieved because something didn’t seem right during her first round loss to Caroline Garcia. Lucie was very flat and barely running for balls at the end. Wishing Lucie a very speedy recovery and fingers crossed she will be ready for Indian Wells!

Next week is Acapulco….

It’s that time of the year when all the players start posting pictures of the beach in Acapulco and I feel insanely jealous! As the matches start late, this is always one of the most challenging tournaments to follow live. I’ll probably try and watch back any decent matches on WTA TV. Not sure if i’ll be doing much on the blog next week as it’s one of the quieter tennis weeks. Indian Wells is sooner than I thought and if work calms down then I want to try and do a bit more on the blog in March.

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14 thoughts on “Saturday’s Set Points, WTA Dubai: Elina Svitolina defends Dubai title

  1. Svitolina really does have Daria’s number. But, Daria has done well for pushing her tired self all the way.
    I think if Elina is able to defend all her titles it could end up as you predicted. If she is able to work a slam in there, it will be a big plus. I’m more interested in how she plays the second half of the season, that is where it will be won or lost. More so if she wins a slam like the French Open. It’s always good to have that winning feeling though, a good confidence booster.

    A speedy recovery to Lucie as well. I’m sure Mattek-Sands is also waiting for her to be fully fit so they can return like she was saying.


  2. Svitolina is really like a female Djokovic or Murray. She’s so confident in her base game of defending that when attacking doesn’t get the job done, she has a B game which is virtually as solid as her A game.


  3. Budapest
    Cibulkova vs Van Uytvanck——Big servers are always a problem, but Cib beat another big server Barthel in the SF. I have the sporty Cib beating the Van. The bookies also have Cib winning.

    Acapulco Players
    S Stephens, Cornet, Bencic, Gavrilova, Miladenovic

    As I predicted, Bouchard wins between $10 and $40 million in her slip and fall lawsuit.
    Scam and sham, slip and fall lawsuits make billions of dollars for lawyers every year in the US, and with 50% of the congress made up of lawyers, this will go on forever.


    • Upset
      Van Uytvanck beats both the #1 seed, Cibulkova, and the #2 see, Zhang, to win the Budapest trophy.
      It seemed to me that Van had better groundies and returns than I remember, in addition to her good serve.
      The Van moved up 30 ranking spots to #50, with the Budapest win.
      This equals her last big win in Quebec City, another hard indoor court.


      • Must admit I misinterpreted your post there for a moment Ziggy – I thought you were saying you were upset by the result! I agree, it’s a good result for Alison and, although a bit disappointing for Domi, she did at least make another final.


      • I’m SO happy to see Alison having good results again. I’ve loved her since she played Serena at the Aus Open a few years ago.


  4. Good to see that Domi’s made another final – I think it’s her first since 2016, though I could be wrong. As for the match, well done Elina who was very solid all through the week but sad for Daria who I think just ran out of steam after nine hours plus on the court over the course of this tournament.


  5. Almost all of the players ranked from #50 to #130 are playing in either the Acapulco International or the Indian Wells Challenger event, and all are hoping for their big breakthrough.
    Great chance for one of these players. I wish they would have more events like this for the lower ranked players, so they wouldn’t be facing a top ten player in round one.

    Van Uytvanck ——– and I thought Eastern European names were unpronounceable!!!!


  6. I have been a fan of Gavrilova, but after seeing the video of her throwing her racket and almost hitting a ball boy, I think she should have been either disqualified or penalized one game. That degree of recklessness should not be allowed on the court.
    The WTA needs to strengthen its penalties and enforcement. The same thing happened last year with Ostapenko and it will continue if the WTA doesn’t bring the hammer down.


    • It is very much like that with the WTA, seeing as Ostapenko was virtually left off the the hook, so will Daria. It deserved at least a fine and lost points or something. Maybe the ball kids and line judges need to raise it up with the ITF. Or worst still, until some racquet pokes the chair umpire in the eye, but touch wood( knock on wood) we never have to get there before it’s nipped in the bud.

      That said, there are similarities to the temperament of both Gravilova and Ostapenko. I assume in the doubles partnership of Daria squared, it is safe to believe Kasatkina is the anchor!?


  7. Qualifier Rebecca Peterson (R# 139) is ripping through the Acapulco draw
    def Cornet (R# 33)
    def Puig (R# 80)
    def Zhang (R# 33)
    def Kostova and Rogowska in the qualies
    All wins without losing a set
    ( Of course this message is the kiss of death for Rebecca…….sorry)


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