Sorana Cirstea will meet Katerina Siniakova in the final of the 23rd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge
Sorana Cirstea will meet Katerina Siniakova in the final of the 23rd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge Image Credit: Courtesy: Mohanan Oruvayalil

Dubai: The fight for the 23rd Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge (AHTC) crown will be settled on Saturday with Romanian Sorana Cirstea setting up a summit clash with fifth seed Katerina Siniakova at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa.

Cirstea dispatched second seed Polona Hercog 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 in nearly two-and-a-half hours after Siniakova had fought her way past qualifier Elena Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 in an equally gripping semi-final on Friday.

Saturday’s action will commence with the doubles final at 1pm with the Indo-Georgian pair of Ankita Raina and Ekaterine Gorgodze taking on Zadoinov Bolsova and Aliona Juvan. This will be followed by the singles final at 3pm.

Both semi-finals went the distance, and both finalists were simply thrilled to be lasting the full week in Dubai during a year when not many have witnessed active sports.

“After what we’ve all been through as professional athletes, the first feeling is that of joy as I can have a rare chance to contest for a title,” Siniakova told Gulf News. “The goal of coming here was to make this event an important part of my pre-season preparations. So staying here as long as possible, especially in such wonderful weather was always appealing to me and my team. And being in a final always gives one a chance to have one’s name on a trophy.”

Cirstea was also thrilled to come through a tough semi-final against a tricky opponent from Romania. “She plays a well-rounded game. She fights for every point and she is focused all the while. It can get really tough to handle such an opponent especially in such a long match,” Cirstea said.

“To my good fortune I fought hard and just stayed in the match. This gives me great hope heading into a final against an opponent [Siniakova] who can be tough to handle as well. Every time I step on court the thought is only of winning a trophy as there is a big difference in having your name on another trophy and ending as a runner-up.”

Meanwhile, India’s Raina – Siniakova’s Round One opponent – eased into the doubles final with her partner from Georgia, Ekaterine. The Indo-Georgian pairing got the better of Anna Blinkova and Heather Watson 6-7, 6-3, 1-0 to set up a final against Bolsova and Juvan who had earlier defeated Dalma Galfi and Tereza Mihalikova 7-6, 6-3.


Katerina Siniakova bt Elena Gabriela Ruse 6-3, 6-7, 6-4
Sorana-Mihaela Cirstea bt Polona Hercog 7-5, 4-6, 7-5
Doubles semi-finals
Ekaterine Gorgodze/Ankita Raina bt Anna Blinkova/Heather Watson 6-7, 6-3, 1-0
Zadoinov Bolsova/Aliona Juvan bt Dalma Galfi/Tereza Mihalikova 7-6, 6-3
Doubles final, 1pm
Singles final, 3pm