Kites set up final date with Hawks in Dubai

The Kites, led by women's World No 1 Iga Swiatek, topped the four-team table at the end of five days of round-robin action with 113 points

By Leslie Wilson Jr

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Novak Djokovic serves during the match against Sebastian Ofner in Dubai on Friday. — Photo by Neeraj Murali.
Novak Djokovic serves during the match against Sebastian Ofner in Dubai on Friday. — Photo by Neeraj Murali.

Published: Fri 23 Dec 2022, 11:45 PM

The Kites and Hawks will battle it out for title honours in the inaugural World Tennis League (WTA) at the Coca-Cola Arena on Saturday evening, just hours before Father Christmas arrives with his sack of presents.

The Kites, led by women’s World No 1 Iga Swiatek, topped the four-team table at the end of five days of round-robin action with 113 points, while the Hawks, finished second with 106 points.

The Eagles took third place with 89 points, five more than bottom-of-the-table Falcons, a team that features former World No 1 and 21-time Grand Slam winner, Novak Djokovic.

Alexander Zverev, who had the measure of Djokovic on the opening day of the tournament, produced another stellar display for the Hawks with a comfortable 6-4 6-2 victory over Italian Andreas Seppi.

After his big win over Djokovic, Zverev, who became the first German men’s player to win an Olympic gold medal when he triumphed at the Tokyo Games, was bristling with confidence.

“I want to win every tournament I play. That’s my character,” he said. “I don’t go to events just to be part of them. I play when I feel I can win a tournament. The size of the event, Grand Slam or not, will not be the point. The point is my comfort on the court.”

And the German, also a former ATP Tour Finals champion, has looked totally at ease on the orange and blue hard courts at the Coca-Cola Arena, hitting the ball with confidence and celebrating every point.

“I feel good about myself. I think I’m still maturing as a player and I want to build on all the experience that I have playing on the tour for the past nine years," he said.

"I don’t have any goals for the new year, but I just want to be the best I can be and the rest will take care of itself.”

Zeverev’s victory over Seppi catapulted the Hawks into the final after Nick Kyrgios and Bianca Andreescu had given the Eagles a winning lead in the doubles, beating Dominic Thiem and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 4-6, 10-7.

However, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who has also looked impressive over the last week, levelled rubbers for the Hawks with a strong 7-5, 6-1 win over WTA Finals winner Carolina Garcia.

Although the Djokovic vs Sebastian Ofner second singles between the Falcons and Eagles was only of academic value, it was the most entertaining match of the evening.

Despite having pulled out of his scheduled match against Kyrgious on Wednesday due to ‘not feeling well’, the Serb showed a glimpse of the skills that have yielded 21-major titles, with a come-from-behind win over the big-serving Austrian, Ofner 6-7 6-0 10-7.

The on-court microphone also picked up some entertaining banter between Djokovic and his teammates between games including insights into his racket specifics, singing ability, and respect for opponents.

“This is a game between experience and age vs youth and power,” Djokovic told his team members before saluting Ofner’s big serve.

“This guy really serves well. He’s tricky,” said the Serb, who upped the stakes after losing the first set to whitewash his younger rival in the second before taking the game to another level in the super-tiebreak, to end the year on a winning note.

The World Tennis League comprises a total of 18 of the world’s top players who are drawn into four teams that played each other in a round-robin format consisting of one men’s singles match, one women’s singles match, and a mixed doubles match.

One point is scored for each game won in a tie, plus one bonus point for a win in a third-set match tiebreak and five bonus points for winning the tie. The top two teams with the most points qualified for the Christmas Eve final on Saturday.

The Kites also comprised Felix Auger-Aliassime, Eugenie Bouchard, Sania Mirza, and Holger Rune while the Falcons squad also featured Grigor Dimitrov, Paula Badosa, and Aryna Sabalenka.

The Hawks were Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Aryna Pvlyuchenkova/ Dominic Thiem, Aryna Pvlyuchenkova, and Elena Rybakina while the Eagles were made up of Nick Kirygios, Andreas Seppi, Bianca Andreescu and Carolina Garcia.


Hawks beat Eagles 2-1 (40-24 points)

Bianca Andreescu/ Nick Kyrgios (Eagles) beat Aryna Pvlyuchenkova/ Dominic Thiem (Hawks) 6-4 4-6 (10-7)

Elena Rybakina (Hawks) beat Carolina Garcia (Eagles) 7-5 6-1

Head-to-head 4-1

Alexander Zverev (Hawks) beat Andreas Seppi (Eagles) 6-4 6-2

Kites beat Falcons 2-1 (36-26 points)

Sania Mirza/ Holger Rune (Kites) beat Paula Badosa/ Grigor Dimitrov (Falcons)

6–2, 4–6, [10–5]

Iga Swiatek (Kites) beat Aryna Sabalenka (Falcons) 6-1 6-3

Novak Djokovic (Falcons) vs Sebastian Ofner (Kites) 6-7 6-0 10-7

More news from Sports