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
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