Errani brushes Strycova aside to claim emphatic DDF title

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Sara Errani won the Dubai title in her second final at the event.

Sara Errani almost didn’t come to Dubai this week as she wasn’t feeling good about her game and felt like she needed a break.

She and her coach decided last-minute to come and compete anyway and she ended up winning the title, becoming the first-ever Italian champion at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Errani not only won the title, she did by producing the most lopsided final result in the history of the women’s event in Dubai as she crushed Barbora Strycova, dropping just two games to lift the trophy.

The 28-year-old was in tears as she ran to hug her coach Pablo Lozano after capturing her first-ever Premier-level trophy – she was 0-4 in finals at that level entering the contest – with a 6-0, 6-2 victory in 66 minutes.


“It’s an unexpected title for me. It was a tough moment, tough year. So my coach is near me, so he helped me a lot. And he know how much we suffer,” an emotional Errani said after her match.








“So to win here is amazing. I mean, it’s such a good tournament. I come in here, we was thinking maybe to not come here, just stay home and recover and try to make it (my game) good.




“But we came here, and every day was really tough. Every match, from the beginning, from the 5-1 down in first round against Zheng (Saisai), and even in the quarter-final with (Madison) Brengle, a lot of tough moments. But of course if we won a tournament, you have to pass a lot of also bad moments.”


The former Roland Garros runner-up took her first title since Rio last year, and ninth overall, in brutal fashion, although she needed five match points to seal the deal.


The 22nd-ranked Errani extended her record lead against Strycova to a dominating 5-1 and her victory made her the second-lowest ranked champion in the history of the Dubai event, behind Venus Williams who was No44 when she won in 2014.


The combined ranking of the two finalists is 69, making it just the third time since 2001 (when the tournament began) the singles final in Dubai is contested by playing with a combined ranking of more than 60.


A clearly nervous Strycova went down 0-40 in her opening service game and double-faulted to get broken and Errani quickly went up 2-0. The Czech faced break points again in game three and sent a volley wide to go down a double-break.



Strycova netted an overhead to face a break point in game five and Errani showed no mercy, going up 5-0 in 21 minutes.


The world No47 got her first break point of the match in the sixth game as she tried hard to get on the board but there was no avoiding a bagel as she sent a forehand wide to surrender the set in 28 minutes.


Strycova hit 21 unforced errors against just six winners in that opening set.


Things didn’t get any better for Strycova in the second set as she sent an easy ball long to get broken in the first game. Before she served in the third game the crowd erupted as they urged her to hold and win a game which left Strycova laughing at the situation she was in.


The cheering worked as she finally held serve, albeit nine games into the contest.


But Errani remained unshakeable and extended her advantage to 6-0, 4-1.




Serving to stay in the match, Strycova saved a championship point before getting a game point with a sensational 18-shot rally that saw her outfox Errani at the net and seal the exchange with a backhand smash. The Czech capitalised on the opportunity and held to stay alive in the contest and make it 0-6, 2-5.


She saved three more match points in the next game but Errani took the title on her fifth chance as Strycova dumped the ball into the net.


The Italian WTA players have produced some impressive results of late with Flavia Pennetta beating her compatriot Roberta Vinci to win the US Open last September, Vinci making her top-10 debut this week thanks to her title in St. Petersburg last week, and now Errani finding her game on the hard courts of the Aviation Club.


Asked if she had an explanation for this Italian renaissance, Errani said: “I don’t know. We are four, (Francesca) Schiavone, Flavia, Robbie, and me, that maybe we help each other to take more and try more things and be confident to can do more things. We had unbelievable result, all four, and we help each other. I don’t really know what happens.”


On her part, Strycova can at least be pleased at the fact that she is having a positive 2016 so far having made the fourth round in Australia, beating Garbine Muguruza along the way, before reaching the Dubai final.



The Czech was disappointed nonetheless by her performance in the final.


Asked what went wrong for her on Saturday, she said: “Everything. I mean, this is one of the days where you try everything and then nothing is working. The funny thing is that I went on court and I didn’t feel really nervous about the match or something different.


“But I tried everything and I couldn’t put one ball in. I don’t know why, what happened, but it’s just sometimes how it is in tennis.”


Strycova had moments last year where she felt she wasn’t enjoying the sport and she admits this week has reignited her passion for tennis.


“I took so many things from this week. I mean, that I can believe in myself and in my game even if it’s not such – if I’m not playing fast or I’m playing like tricky game, that I can beat anybody,” said the 29-year-old Strycova.


“To believe that you can do it, it’s a good feeling. I beat Ana (Ivanovic), which I never beat before. This gave me so much confidence.


“I also took from this week that I enjoy tennis again. It’s nice to play the sport.”



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WTA stars learn Arabic! We put Dubai Duty Free Tennis players’ language skills to the test

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Following on from Ana Ivanovic’s impressive multilingual Arabic language skills, WTA Tour stars Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro completed Sport360.com’s Arabic test to see how well they could pronounce well-known phrases.

Watch our video to see how they got on and make up your own mind over who you thought was the best!

And in case you missed it, here’s a recap of Ivanovic’s Arabic chat with Sport360 during the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships:












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Mladenovic diary: Lessons can be learned from defeat

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Mladenovic and partner Garcia were beaten by Chuang and Jurak in the doubles final.

Defeat is something you constantly have to learn to deal with in tennis.

Except for those champions like Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic who have a few losses that they can count on one hand or two, for all the other players it’s very rare to finish a week unbeatable, meaning that you won the tournament.

It’s never easy to get over a loss, I’m of course always disappointed because I’m a big competitor and I want to win but then you try to be humble and calm and take everything as a great lesson. Think about what worked, what didn’t work…

My coaches always told me that my biggest quality is that I’m a very hard worker. Even after the toughest loss I always go on court the next day, from the first hour and go and practice. Sometimes, that feeling happen to me straight after a match so I go and practice.

I have some friends on tour, players that are so down the next day after a loss that they’re just lazy and they don’t want to do anything. I’m a big hard worker and I’ve always believed that in order to achieve something, hard work always pays off.

I just try to take it as a great lesson, that’s always what we say. Sometimes you can learn even more from a loss than a win. And you can really feel, if you’re concentrated and focused on that, it can help when you come back in a similar situation and position to remember ‘okay, I did that, at the time it was wrong’.

You just need to move on, and try to work and keep believing and working, it’s never easy but on the other hand what I’ve always been told is that I’m quite mature in that – at the end of the day, I’m the happiest because I can play and compete and be there and have a second chance the next week.

I was so badly injured when I was younger that I still have in my mind that time when I was forced not to play and I wished I could go out there every week, even if I lost, at least I could still compete.

So of course I’m disappointed that I lost because everybody wants to win but at the end of the day I feel there are things that are much worse in life than losing a match.

I’m doing my job that I love and in tennis every week you have a new opportunity to prove, to improve, to enjoy. I feel like it’s just a tennis match and I’m living off my passion, it’s my job. That’s not going to affect how I’m going to sleep at night.

Of course I’m a professional competitor and there are some nights where it’s more difficult to accept and tougher to sleep because you’re thinking about the match, what changed the momentum, what were the turning points… but there are much more important things in life outside tennis and at the end of the day it’s a job like any other job. It’s true it’s difficult mentally because it’s a sport and there are wins and there are losses but at the end of the day it’s a job and you say it was a bad day at the office.

The rain on Wednesday made things very difficult for us in terms of the schedule.

Can you imagine I got off the court after 1:00am? I have to be honest and say that none of us on tour practice or hit at midnight or 1:00am. And that day we had only me and Coco, and Kvitova and Brengle – who finished before us – when I finished, when I went off court, it was like 1:15am. This is ridiculous.

That’s why this sport is crazy because we would never practice at that time, our bodies aren’t used to this. That’s why I admire us, that we managed to be so competitive and put such a quality game out there.

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