Dubai: Dubai celebrated a new champion when Belinda Bencic became only the second Swiss woman to lift the women’s singles trophy at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, late on Saturday.
Up against a near-flawless, yet rusty looking world number four Petra Kvitova, the 21-year-old from Wollerau won 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to duplicate countrywoman and former world number one Martina Hingis’s triumph at the inaugural edition in 2001.
Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum, President, Tennis Emirates (TE) was joined by Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice-Chairman and CEO, Dubai Duty Free, Salah Tahlak, Executive Vice President, Corporate Services and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships Tournament Director, Dubai Duty Free COO Ramesh Cidambi in handing out the winner’s trophy to the new champion.
This is the first title for me this season and that makes this one very special
“One of the things I promised my dad if I won this tournament is that we would go skydiving and do a bit of shopping,” new champion Bencic told spectators on centre court. “This is the first title for me this season and that makes this one very special. She [Kvitova] hits so hard and so the plan throughout was to ensure I got as many balls as possible across the net. I am not feeling all that tired, but I think I will once I receive my trophy,” she added.
A one-time career-high at world number seven, Saturday’s win also marked a productive week in Dubai for Bencic as she is assured a No. 23 finish when fresh WTA Rankings are announced on Monday. This will be the first time since late 2016 that the Swiss girl is breaking into the top 30 of the rankings.
Bencic’s third WTA title didn’t exactly come easy as the opening set witnessed a total of four break points, of which the Swiss girl bagged three. Starting off with a break was always an added advantage followed by a second one in the fifth to go 4-1 up. Kvitova returned the favour in the sixth, but one more break in the ninth was enough to hand her the set 6-3 in 40 engrossing minutes.
The second set was a contrast and the 2019 Australian Open runner-up Kvitova moving in quickly for a couple of breaks to stay 4-0 in the clear. That was enough for the experienced left-hander as Kvitova served out the set 6-1 in a mere 26 minutes and draw level.
Bencic, who earlier this week had accounted for three of the world’s top-10 players — Aryna Sabalenka, Elina Svitolina and Simona Halep — en route to the final, put herself for a fourth scalp with a couple of breaks in the third and seventh to pocket her third career crown.
Earlier in the evening, Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh had partnered Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova to land their first title here with an impressive 6-4, 6-4 win over the seventh-seeded pair of Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova to be crowned the new doubles champions in Dubai.
(Singles) Belinda Bencic bt Petra Kvitova 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.
(Doubles) Su-Wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova bt Lucie Hradecka/Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 6-4.