Sara Errani booked her spot in the final of this year's Dubai Duty Free Championship on Friday after defeating Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 to continue her surprising run through the tournament.
The Italian cruised through to the competition's final after an error-ridden performance from Svitolina saw her power back from 3-1 down in the second set to seal her second win in as many attempts against the Ukrainian.
Errani will face Barbora Strycova in Saturday's final after she defeated Caroline Garcia in a tough match. The Czech player battled hard against her French opponent, sealing a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win.
Read on for a full recap of Friday's semi-final action as we head toward a climactic curtain call in the United Arab Emirates.
|Friday's Semi-Final Results|
|Player 1||Score||Player 2|
|Elina Svitolina||6-4, 6-4||Sara Errani|
|Barbora Strycova||6-2, 3-6, 6-3||Caroline Garcia|
Errani and Svitolina engaged in a tense tug-of-war fraught with mistakes in Friday's semi, and each player dropped their serve early on as either combatant looked to establish a foothold.
It was almost impossible to separate the pair, but LiveTennis writer Hannah Wilks attributed that to both players being equally poor rather than cancelling each other out at a particularly high standard:
Hannah Wilks @newballsplease
40 minutes. Six games played. Nobody can hold serve. Nobody can particularly break it either. Svitolina-Errani, everybody.2016-2-19 10:53:26
It was Svitolina's serving consistency that let her down most, and ProTennisLive reported the Ukrainian won just 31 per cent of her second service points, allowing her foe three first-set breaks in total.
Errani eventually opened up a two-game lead for the first time in the match and made a critically timed surge to bag the first set 6-4, allowing Svitolina just one point in each of the ninth and 10th games.
The serving woes continued for Svitolina in the second set, and despite breaking to attain a 3-1 lead, the 21-year-old then showed her inexperience as she conceded back-to-back breaks and lost the next four consecutive games.
As shown by the National, it was fittingly a long, overhit error from Svitolina that put the finishing touches on Errani's victory to win 6-4, 6-4:
The National Sport @NatSportUAE
GAME SET MATCH: Sara Errani is into the #DDFTennis final after a 6-4 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina! Match point: https://t.co/zFPr4Kr92a2016-2-19 12:06:32
The Italian will hardly claim this as her finest display and will know things have to improve on Saturday if she's to seal top spot in Dubai.
In the end, Svitolina's serve proved the tipping point, winning just 13 of her 30 second attempts, while Errani only had 10 second-service efforts to speak of throughout the match.
Strycova claimed her place in the final against Errani after her match against Garcia swung back and forth.
The Czech's serve was key in the first set as she won 73 per cent of points on her first serve, according to Flashscore.com.
Strycova took control at 2-2, twice breaking her opponent back-to-back and winning four games on the bounce as she held serve, closing out the set.
However, Garcia fought back in the second—despite once again losing her serve twice—but on this occasion she was lethal at the other end of the court as Strycova served, breaking her three times in a row to win the set.
The WTA highlighted Garcia's upturn in form:
We're going the distance! @CaroGarcia battles back to force a decider vs Strycova 2-6, 6-3! #WTA https://t.co/FOb6beOGrs2016-2-19 17:17:06
The French player's renaissance wasn't to last, though, despite once again breaking her opponent's serve in the opening game of the final set.
Strycova countered with another break in the second game, and then a further in eighth to make it 5-3.
She finished Garcia off on her own serve, and deservedly claimed a place in the final after a tight affair.