Dubai Tennis: Elina Svitolina improves to 11-2 in finals and other stats from week in the desert

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An eventful week of tennis has come to an end in Dubai and it culminated with Elina Svitolina defending her title.

Here’s a look at the numbers and figures behind the 18th edition of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

3 – women have successfully defended the Dubai title: Svitolina, Venus Williams and Justine Henin.

5 – match points saved by Kasatkina en route to the final (2 against Konta, 3 against Muguruza).

8 – Svitolina is the eighth top seed to win the Dubai title.

10 – hours and 15 minutes, the total time spent on court by Kasatkina.

11 – titles won from 13 finals reached for Svitolina.

16 – aces struck by Caroline Garcia through her three matches in Dubai, the most by any player in the draw.

20 – Kasatkina’s new career-high ranking when the new standings are released on Monday.

20 – Kasatkina’s age, she is the youngest to reach the final in Dubai since Victoria Azarenka in 2010.

20 – times Svitolina has broken serve throughout the week.

23 – double faults hit by Kasatkina, the most by any player in the draw.

26 – games Svitolina has dropped en route to the title, averaging 6.5 games per match.

34 – unforced errors hit by Kasatkina in the final against Svitolina, compared to just 11 winners.

50.4 – Svitolina won 50.4 per cent of her return points throughout the week (four matches), the second-highest percentage behind Naomi Osaka who won 51.9 per cent of her return points (three matches).

61.5 – Svitolina won 61.5 per cent of her service points throughout the week, the highest among all players this tournament.

82.5 – Svitolina has won 82.5 per cent of her service games throughout the week.

347 – Kasatkina has collected $347,060 for making the final in Dubai, the largest prize money cheque she has received at a single tournament.

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Dubai Tennis: Elina Svitolina crushes Daria Kasatkina to defend her title

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Top seed Elina Svitolina became just the third woman to defend the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title thanks to a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

The fourth-ranked Svitolina needed just one hour and 10 minutes to end Kasatkina’s inspired run that saw the 20-year-old save five match points en route to the final, taking out No. 7 seed Johanna Konta and No. 2 seed Garbine Muguruza.

But the 23-year-old Svitolina proved too solid for Kasatkina as the Ukrainian improved her stunning record in finals to 11-2 and joined Venus Williams and Justine Henin as the only women to win back-to-back titles in Dubai.

“It’s amazing, coming back and playing as a defending champion was amazing. I want to say congrats to Daria for her performance here, it was unbelievable. Definitely we’re going to see more and more of her, winning here,” said Svitolina after her win.

“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.”

Kasatkina had the first break opportunity of the match, in Svitolina’s first service game, but the Ukrainian saved it and went on to break for a 4-2 lead.

Just as she had been doing all week, Kasatkina saved three set points in game nine, forcing Svitolina to serve for the set. And it wasn’t long before the Ukrainian sealed her one-set advantage, thanks to a wide backhand from Kasatkina.

Between sets, Kasatkina’s coach Philippe Dehaes paid a visit to his player giving her one special pep talk.

“I’m running like an idiot. I cannot hit the ball. My legs are like bubbles,” complained Kasatkina, who was feeling the effects of the 9+ hours she spent on court en route to the final.

The Belgian coach called upon Kasatkina to “be brave”, which is what she needed to be when she ousted Konta and Muguruza from match points down.

“You’re facing the best defender in the world. This girl is running everywhere and bringing all the balls back, and sometimes she’s making the decision,” said Dehaes.

“You are a brave girl, but you have to be brave in the decisions you take. Remember the basket we did, the sound, and I told you ‘Dasha hit, for the guy who is in the top of the stadium’, you see this forehand, that’s what we’re waiting for.

“You will have to go for it.

“Normally you stay five hours on court so for the moment this is correct,” he joked.

The chat didn’t do the trick as Svitolina quickly went up a double-break 3-0 in the second set.

A backhand winner saw Svitolina make it 5-0 and it was all over in 70 minutes.

Kasatkina ended up committing 34 unforced errors compared to just 11 winners.

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Dubai Tennis: Grigor Dimitrov headlines 'open' field - Draw preview

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If anyone wants proof that men’s tennis is on the cusp of a real transition, then look no further than the draw of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The tournament, which began with its qualifying rounds on Saturday and will officially kick off its main draw on Monday, has always featured a stacked field headlined by multiple top-10 players like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

The Dubai title was won by a member of the ‘Big Five’ (Federer, Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, or Stan Wawrinka) in each of the last nine years and 14 of the last 15 editions.

But this year, none of them are competing in the Dubai showpiece, and only one top-10 player – Grigor Dimitrov – is in the draw.


While Federer and Nadal occupy the top two spots in the world rankings, the rest of the top-10 is looking fairly different to what we’ve been used to and features three players aged 25 and under – Alexander Zverev (20 years old), Dominic Thiem (24) and Jack Sock (25).








Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka have struggled with injuries while Federer has been playing a lighter schedule to preserve his energy and extend his career. Nadal is dealing with a hip problem he picked up in Melbourne last month but is due to make a return this upcoming week in Acapulco.


For the first time in a long time, the Dubai tournament is quite open and it feels like literally any one of the 32 players in the draw can lift the trophy next Saturday.



“I think not only this tournament. If you look at the whole year, last year already and also beginning of this year, you see a lot more surprises, you see different winners, except maybe if Roger is there, but it is a little bit different because all these top guys that used to win everything they’ve been injured or are struggling and all these other guys have been playing better,” said Dutchman Robin Haase, who reached the semi-finals in Dubai last season and is the ninth-highest ranked player in this year’s draw.


“The level is just getting closer and closer and I think that’s great. I think the time that you knew the quarters are probably going to look like this, or six out of eight are those names, now it’s only two out of eight.


“I think that’s good. I think you see more variety of players so I’m looking forward also myself to play in these times because it’s more open than ever.”


Haase faces Italian Paolo Lorenzi in the first round in Dubai and could potentially take on Dimitrov in his second match. Dimitrov got Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri in his opener.


“I always look at my first round, it’s no use to look further,” said Haase. “I was almost seeded, I was No. 9, so I was actually hoping for someone to pull out so I would be seeded. To be in the second round maybe already get the No. 1 of the draw that’s not great. But it’s the way it is. But I have to win my first round. The No. 1 has to win his first round. So it’s open and I’m looking forward to it.”



Next Gen player Borna Coric, who upset Andy Murray here in 2015 on his way to the semi-finals, is a resident in Dubai and frequents the emirate to train every offseason.


He has good memories from this tournament but still thinks it will be tough for everyone, even in the absence of the big guns.


“It is a little bit more open but all these guys are great players, they’re very competitive. Each match is a different story so it’s not going to be easy,” said the 21-year-old Croatian.


Coric begins his campaign against French No. 5 seed Richard Gasquet.


PROJECTED QUARTER-FINALS (BY SEED)


Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [1] v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) [6]


Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [3] v Richard Gasquet (FRA) [5]


Damir Dzumhur (BIH) [4] v Filip Krajinovic (SRB) [7]


Lucas Pouille (FRA) [2] v Yuichi Sugita (JPN) [8]



WILDCARDS


Malek Jaziri (TUN)


Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)


Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)



ONES TO WATCH


Karen Khachanov (RUS)


The world No. 47 Next Gen star has a big game that can cause some serious damage on the fast courts of Dubai. This is just his second appearance at the tournament – he lost his opener to Bautista Agut last year – but he is a Dubai resident and is familiar with the hot and humid conditions. He is playing the semi-finals in Marseille on Saturday so will have to deal with a quick turnaround to be ready for Dubai.


Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)


The No. 3 seed, ranked No. 22 in the world, is making his sixth consecutive appearance in Dubai, where he reached the quarter-finals in 2016. He already has a title under his belt this season, defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the final in Auckland last month, but has since struggled. With this open draw, Dubai could provide the perfect opportunity for the Spaniard to bounce back.




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