Krejcikova savours her 'best tennis' in Dubai

The Czech world No30 ended an unforgettable week in Dubai, stunning the most dominant player in the women’s game in straight sets 6-4, 6-2

By Joy Chakravarty

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Barbora Krejcikova kisses the trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — Photos by M Sajjad
Barbora Krejcikova kisses the trophy after winning the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. — Photos by M Sajjad

Published: Sat 25 Feb 2023, 11:01 PM

Barbora Krejcikova definitely saved her best for the last. After taking out the second- and third-ranked players in the previous rounds, it was the turn of the world No1 Iga Swiatek to get the treatment.

The Czech world No30 ended an unforgettable week in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, stunning the most dominant player in the women’s game in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

Krejcikova became only the fourth player this century to beat top-three ranked players in a single tournament.

The previous two efforts came in the WTA Finals (Aryna Sabalenka in 2022 and Venus Williams in 2008), while the only time such a feat was achieved in a larger field event was way back in 2002 by Serena Williams in Miami.

She beat Martina Hingis, Venus Williams and Jennifer Capriati.

The win was worth $454,500 for the 2021 French Open champion and will elevate her to No16 in the world.

Krejcikova took the first set with eight straight points, but her version of grandstand finish was two back-to-back aces in the second to get to two match points, before converting the first one.

“I feel great. I think I showed my best tennis this week. I’m really happy with the way how I played, and also how I was able to hold the nerves. I enjoyed everything that was happening during this week on the court,” said Krejcikova.

The first point in the match went Swiatek’s way when Krejcikova completely misjudged and skied the ball high into the crowd. If there ever was a perfect red herring thrown, that was it.

Completely unfazed by the reputation of her opponent, Krejcikova broke in the first game itself, converting the break point with a stunning backhand return, something that would be seen in plenty in the next one hour and 31 minutes.

When Krejcikova won the first set in 44 minutes, it was the first time an opponent had taken a set off Swiatek.

In fact, it was the first time someone had gone past four games in a match since her fourth round loss in the Australian Open.

Even though there were five breaks in the first set – four of them in back-to-back games – it wasn’t a scrappy affair. Krejcikova was trying to play aggressive shots and hit several blinding backhand winners, but it also produced unforced errors.

Swiatek, on the other hand, was trying to pin her back on the baseline, and hitting it long in the process. More than anything else, it was her first serve that deserted her in the second set, and Krejcikova took full advantage of that.

Even with the trophy in her hands, the 27-year-old was full of praise for Swiatek, seven years her junior.

“She's No1. She has more than 10,000 points. She’s winning everything. She had an amazing streak last year, and this year also. Last week, she played amazing. This week I saw her matches and she was in a really good shape and really good form,” said Krejcikova.

“It’s great if I get the opportunity to practice with her because she’s just so dedicated to tennis. She gives her 100 percent every single time. It is amazing that at such a young age she has a mind that is really clear about what she wants. I have so much respect for her, and she is just a big motivation.”

It was Krejcikova’s first title of 2023 and the sixth of her career.

RESULTS

WOMEN’S SINGLES (FINALS)

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE) beat 1-Iga Swiatek (POL) 6-4, 6-2

DOUBLES (FINALS)

Veronika Kudermetova (RUS)/Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) beat Hao Ching-Chan (TPE)/Latisha Chan (TPE) 6-4, 7-6, 10-1


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