Hsieh Su-wei was eyeing a second doubles title of the season after the Taiwanese world No. 1 and her partner, world No. 2 Barbora Strycova, on Friday sealed a spot in the doubles final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
The top seeds and defending champions defeated fourth seeds Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Zhang Shuai of China 7-5, 6-3 in 1 hour, 22 minutes on the hard courts in the United Arab Emirates to advance to their third final of the season.
The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved three of eight break points and converted seven of 10, winning 71 percent of their second return points to improve their season record to 12-1, their only loss being in the final of the Australia Open in Melbourne last month.
“It was a good match,” Strycova told the WTA Web site. “I think it was a lot of ups and downs. Both teams were losing, in the second set, our serves, but my partner served it out, which is great, and I’m very happy to be back in the final.”
Hsieh and Strycova are looking to land their second title of the season after triumphing in Brisbane, Australia, last month.
They were due to take on Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic and Zheng Saisai of China, after the fifth seeds cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded Americans Desirae Krawczyk and Alison Riske in 63 minutes.
“We know them both very well, but we haven’t played them before as a pair,” Strycova told the WTA Web site. “It’s going to be interesting, it’s going to be a very tough match, because they were beating very good teams. Just to say, we are very happy to be back in the final and can’t wait until tomorrow [Saturday].”
In the singles, Simona Halep pounded out a 6-2, 6-0 defeat of US qualifier Jennifer Brady to move into a second career final.
The top seed and world No. 2 is to face Elena Rybakina after the Kazakh defeated Petra Martic 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/2) in their earlier semi-final.
“It felt much better than previous matches, I played really well,” said Halep after a 62-minute win which followed having to come back from a set down in both of her previous matches.
“Everything went in, I felt the ball great. I feel like I played the best match since I came here,” she said.
Rybakina is now into her fourth final from five tournaments.
The Kazakh, who has now won a WTA-leading 19 matches this year, took two and a quarter hours to outlast her more experienced Croatian opponent Martic, who led 3-0 in the second set.
Rybakina won the Hobart title last month and finished runner-up in Shenzhen, China, and St Petersburg, Russia.
Halep retired in her only previous match with Rybakina in the third round in Wuhan, China, in September last year.
“I’m playing for another trophy, so I’m relaxed. I’m focused. I really want it,” said Halep, who will be bidding for a 20th career title today. “Playing here in Dubai makes me happy on court, I actually feel like every day I’m improving,” Halep said.
After a modest season last year, the 20-year-old has Rybakina has improved 150 places to 19th in the rankings.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “Hopefully, I can continue to play like this and next year also.”
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