It's been a historic week in Dubai as for the first time at a WTA Premier level event, all the seeds lost in their opening match. Therefore, the unseeded pairing of Elina Svitolina and Sara Errani have capitalized on this to reach the semi finals of the Dubai Tennis Championships, held on hard courts in the United Arab Emirates.
Svitolina recently admitted to putting too much pressure on her self after a promising start to the year. Despite playing well at the Hopman Cup and pushing the eventual Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber to three sets in Sydney, the Ukrainian suffered a second round defeat herself in Melbourne at the hands of Naomi Osaka.
Now under the guidance of the former seven-time major champion and world number one Justine Henin, the 21-year-old is back to her best. In the second round, she outsteadied the second seed and world number five Garbine Muguruza for the first time in three attempts. The Spaniard hemorrhaged unforced errors throughout as Svitolina knocked off another seed 7-6(3), 6-3. In the quarterfinals, the world number 21 recovered from a 0-2 deciding set deficit to beat big serving Coco Vandeweghe 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.
Errani is experiencing the best week of her season thus far in Dubai. Aside from making the quarter finals at Sydney, the Italian had failed to win a match elsewhere in Brisbane, the Australian Open and the Fed Cup.
The 28 year old has managed to avoid any of the brittle seeds this week but had her work cut out against Madison Brengle in the quarter finals, recovering from a 1-4 double break deficit in the decider before prevailing in a gritty struggle 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.
A winner of three WTA titles, Svitolina is looking to reach her first Premier level final. The junior French Open champion of 2010 hit a career high last summer of number 15 and will be looking to get back inside the top 20 given her second round loss in Dubai against Petra Kvitova last year. Despite that three set defeat, Svitolina has beaten the Czech in the past, alongside the likes of Kerber and Lucie Safarova.
Errani might be ranked as low as number 22 at present but is a former world number five and a French Open finalist in 2012. A winner of eight career titles, the Italian hasn't made a Premier level final since Rome 2014 but like Svitolina, has bounced back well considering a second round defeat in Dubai last year to Sorana Cirstea. In fact, the former doubles world number one will have fond memories of playing in the Gulf, considering her run to the final here in 2013, where she was bested in three sets by Kvitova.
Errani won their only previous meeting on the indoor hard courts in the quarter finals of Paris 2014. The 6-2, 6-3 scoreline was simple enough but Svitolina was only ranked 38 at the time compared to Errani's number seven.
There is no doubt that this match will feature lots of long rallies and breaks of serve as neither player possesses a knock out punch. Svitolina is certainly the more powerful of the two when she commits and has the better serve, though Errani is extremely tenacious and will make a fight of it.
Given the medium to fast paced hard court that they're playing on and the current form Svitolina's been in at Dubai, she should be able to dictate the match on her terms for a change.
Prediction: Elina Svitolina in straight sets