Elina Svitolina successfully defended her title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and thus claiming her 11th career WTA title at the age of 23. This came after a dominant win over the unseeded Daria Kasatkina in straight sets, triumphing 6-4, 6-0 after just an hour and 10-minutes of play.
Ironically, despite defending her title, Svitolina will fall one spot in the rankings because the tournament status of Dubai and Doha alternate every year, meaning that this year’s triumph will only bring her 470 points as compared to 900 in 2017. Whereas, with her outstanding run, Kasatkina will finally crack the top-20 for the first time in her career on Monday.
Svitolina edges through in tight first set
It was the best possible start to the final for Kasatkina, who looked in great spirits having saved match points on two different occasions. Svitolina was still getting into the rhythm during the early stages, gifting some free points with her uncharacteristic forehand errors which thus allowed the Russian to earn a break point.
A backhand error from Kasatkina followed before her forehand started to misfire as the Russian failed to convert what would be her only break point opportunity of the match. Svitolina rattled off three consecutive games from 1-2, winning 12 of the next 15 points as she was putting up an extremely solid display.
The momentum seemed to have shifted hands, though, after Kasatkina prevailed in the point of the match with an unbelievable lob winner and edging closer than ever to breaking back. However, all probabilities of a comeback were wiped off with Svitolina’s clean tennis, earning three set points on Kasatkina’s serve in the ninth game.
However, untimely unforced errors from the Ukrainian saved the Russian from the brink, forcing Svitolina to serve out the set. Despite having the pressure weighed on her shoulders, she benefitted from a slew of errors by her opponent as she survived a tricky service game from 15-30 down to take the first set 6-4 after 43 minutes.
Svitolina whitewashes a washed-up Kasatkina, grabs 11th career title
Having an encouraging on-court coaching session, Kasatkina looked to rebound from the loss of the close first set. Changing tactics to become more aggressive, it backfired on the crucial points as she wasted a 40-15 lead to get broken in the opening game. That turned out to be the closest she was to winning a game in the one-sided second set.
Everything was going smoothly for Svitolina, who was finding the consistency, angles, and power on her shots. The outcome of the match seemed to be decided after Kasatkina crumbled in a decisive and marathon service game, with the world number four coming up with several impressive winners to grab a double-break lead.
Although she faced some troubles in closing out the match, Svitolina eventually sealed the dominant win over the talented Russian, taking the impressive victory after just a mere 70 minutes of play and successfully reigning the champion in Dubai yet again.