Sun, Feb 21, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Chuang and Jurak head to Dubai final

‘BIG REVERSAL’:The Taiwanese-Croation duo fought their way back from a set down to secure the win and are to face Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic

By Dave Carroll  /  Staff reporter, with AFP, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

Italy’s Sara Errani returns to Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in their Dubai Tennis Championships women’s singles semi-final match in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Friday.

Photo: EPA

Taiwan’s Chuang Chia-jung and Darija Jurak of Croatia battled back from a set down and saved five match points in the second set to advance to the doubles final at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Friday.

The Taiwanese-Croatian duo went on to complete a 5-7, 7-6 (7/5), 10-7 victory over Sara Errani of Italy and Carla Suarez-Navarro of Spain in 1 hour, 57 minutes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

Chuang and Jurak saved eight of 14 break points and converted five of eight, winning 83 of the 168 points contested.

“Won the second innings from 2-5 behind again... Big reversal. I know you can’t believe it, I can’t believe it,” Chuang wrote on Facebook.

In yesterday’s final, Chuang and Jurak were due to take on second-seeded French pairing Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, who defeated fourth seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Julia Goerges of Germany 6-3, 6-4 in 68 minutes in the second semi-final on Friday.

Kaohsiung-born Chuang, 31, was to appear in her first WTA Tour doubles final since winning the title in Strasbourg, France, with China’s Liang Chen in May last year.

Chuang has won 21 WTA Tour doubles titles, the first in 2005 in Seoul alongside fellow Taiwanese Chan Yung-jan, while Jurak has just one, in Monterrey, Mexico, in March 2014 alongside Megan Moulton-Levy of the US.

In the singles, Errani and Czech Barbora Strycova were yesterday to clash for the title after both battled through at an event reeling after early exits for all seeds.

Errani reached her second final on Friday, defeating Ukrainian Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-4. Strycova outlasted Caroline Garcia of France 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in a battle of momentum shifts lasting 2 hours, 15 minutes.

Errani leads the series 5-1, earning wins in her last four matches with Strycova dating to 2010.

The Dubai tournament now holds an unenviable record after all eight seeds lost in the first two rounds, the first time that phenomenon has ever occurred on the WTA. In addition, it was hit by pullouts from the top two players in the world, Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber.

Errani, ranked 22nd, took almost two hours to hold off 21st-ranked Svitolina, finishing with 31 unforced errors and just a dozen winners.

The Italian is to play her 19th final, bidding for a ninth singles title.

“It was really tough today, it was hot,” Errani said.

“Most of the games were very long with a lot of points,” she said.

“I just tried to play focused on every one. I won Rio this week a year ago, so maybe this is my week to play well,” Errani said.

Errani finished runner-up in 2013 to Petra Kvitova at the Aviation Club.

Strycova complained of a poor day on serve, but ended her semi-final over Garcia with an ace.

“I don’t know how, but I made three good serves in the final game,” said the 29-year-old, who has one career title from Quebec five years ago.

“I’m so happy, it was not an easy match for me, but to be in the final is great. When I was down in the third set I told myself to play my game and go for it,” she said.

“I had nothing to lose, since I had not been serving well the entire match,” Strycova said as she entered her sixth final.

The Czech went on a tear in the first set, winning seven straight games and reaching a 2-0 lead in the second before Garcia found her balance and made a match of it.

The French player won the second set and was up a break 1-0 in the third before Strycova managed a final push to victory.

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