Daria Kasatkina to Face Defending Champion Elina Svitolina for Dubai Title
(February 23, 2018) Daria Kasatkina saved match points to beat No. 2 seed and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-1 in the semi-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday to set up a final showdown with defending champion Elina Svitolina, who defeated Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3.
Kasatkina held a match point against her when they last met a little over a year ago. That battle stretched to three hours and Muguruza only secured victory by winning the final set tiebreak. This time the tables were turned as the Russian Kasatkina fought off three match points in a dramatic tiebreak at the end of an incredible 86-minute second set before dominating a tiring Muguruza in the third.
“I think she likes to play when she’s under pressure,” said Muguruza. “Her best tennis comes when she’s about to lose, I feel. I think she has a good fitness to be able to run a lot. I think that’s what, you know, help her today. She was not missing a lot. She was inspired when she was under pressure. I had to all of a sudden hit an incredible shot or a winner or something like that to kind of break a little bit the rally.”
“My game was fine,” the Spaniard said. “(But) I feel I really struggled physically because I’ve been playing so many matches in a row. Today was very physical. At the third set I really notice it because my legs were starting to get very fatigue. I think all the accumulation came up a little bit. I’m going to deserve be just laying down at some hotel, swimming pool.”
It was the second time this week that Kasatkina has saved match points on the way to an upset victory, after she held off two match points against seventh seed Johanna Konta in the second round.
When asked how she had managed to win the match, she replied, “Who knows. When you’re winning from match points, you don’t know why. I was just trying to fight for every ball because Garbine, she’s playing unbelievable. She’s very tough opponent. She’s hitting so hard, playing so fast. I was just trying to do whatever I could.”
While Muguruza admitted to being weary at the end of the match, Kasatkina revealed that she was tired before the match even began.
“Actually, before the match I was really, really tired. When you’re going on court, adrenaline is coming, and you just can forget about it. You start to run, blood start to run into your body, that’s it. You’re just focused on every ball. The tired is somewhere, going somewhere, yeah.”
Svitolina enjoyed a comfortable victory over an opponent she has now beaten in their last five meetings.
“Well, I’m happy that it was in two sets because before we had such tough battles. I’m very happy that I saved little bit more energy for my next opponent,” she said. “I was really pleased the way I was playing the tough moments.”
Kerber has won a record-equalling 15 matches this year but admitted she was not at her best against Svitolina.
“I think it was not my best day,” she said. “I mean, I was trying to find my rhythm. But especially in my serve, I couldn’t find it. I think that I did too many easy mistakes. I think that was at the end the key.”
The doubles final will be between the fourth seeded team of Su-Wei Hsieh and Shuai Peng, who defeated top seeds and defending champions Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-1 3-6 10-7, and the unseeded pairing of Hao-Ching Chan and Zhaoxuan Yang who beat Alicja Rosolska and Abigail Spears 6-4 7-5.
Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships
February 19-24, 2018
RESULTS – FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Singles – Semifinals
 E. Svitolina (UKR) d  A. Kerber (GER) 63 63
D. Kasatkina (RUS) d  G. Muguruza (ESP) 36 76(11) 61 – saved three match points
Doubles – Semifinals
 S. Hsieh (TPE) / S. Peng (CHN) d  E. Makarova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) 61 36 10-7
H. Chan (TPE) / Z. Yang (CHN) d A. Rosolska (POL) / A. Spears (USA) 64 75
ORDER OF PLAY – SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2018
CENTRE COURT start 5:00 pm
DOUBLES FINAL –  S. Hsieh (TPE) / S. Peng (CHN) vs H. Chan (TPE) / Z. Yang (CHN)
Not Before 7:00 pm
SINGLES FINAL –  E. Svitolina (UKR) vs D. Kasatkina (RUS)