Friday’s matches at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships featured two grueling semi-final contest, and the winners that crossed the finish line did so in impressive fashion. Now, top seed Simona Halep and rising star Karolina Pliskova will meet for the first time in the final of the UAE-based tournament to determine who will lift the crown in 2015.
Halep didn’t look her best at the start of her match against Caroline Wozniacki, but eventually found herself during the second set, and applied the necessary pressure to close out the contest in the decider. Halep hit 58% of her first service points and saved five break points to defeat the Dane 2-6, 6-1, 6-1.
“When I started the match I started with bad tactics – I was just hitting every ball and I made too many mistakes. I couldn’t find my rhythm,” Halep said afterwards. “In the second set I knew I had to change it and just play with good length and open the court more. I knew I couldn’t force it too much like I did in the first set. That worked very well for me, and I just kept doing it until the end of the match.”
Earlier in the day, Pliskova managed to survive a difficult battle against fellow rising talent Garbine Muguruza, whom she eventually edged with a lone break in the Spaniard’s final service game. The match was dominated by serves, and ended 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in just under three hours of court time.
“I feel amazing, I really didn’t expect to get to the final here,” Pliskova said. “We both have great serves, so it’s always going to be tough to break, even if you have 0-30 or 0-40, it doesn’t mean anything until you get that final point. I put everything into my serve to get that final game.”
This is the first time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, and given their respective weeks on the tour, it will likely be an entertaining affair that will dazzle the fans in attendance. Pliskova is in her second final of the season and will be looking to lift the title and shoot up to No. 11 in the rankings. However, she will come up against a tough, durable opponent who will make her work for the victory.
Prediction: Simona Halep in Three Sets