(February 18, 2016) DUBAI – In a topsy-turvy tournament which saw the top 8 seeds knocked out of the tournament before the quarterfinals, Elina Svitolina will face Sara Errani and Caroline Garcia will play Barbora Strycova in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
No. 47 Barbora Strycova came back from a 3-5 deficit in the first set tiebreak to defeat former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic 7-6(5), 6-3.
What made the difference for the Czech, who came in 0-3 against the Serb?
“I believed myself,” said Strycova. “And I changed a little bit some things before I went on court, because I lost the previous matches against Ana, so I had to change a little bit the return.
“I was trying to be aggressive because the conditions on this court is really fast, so you have to also play a little bit quick not to spin all the time the balls.
“So that was working well, and I think I was returning also very well.”
“I was 5-3 down (in the first set tiebreak). “I was playing very good four balls in a row. I told myself when I was 5-3 down I was playing a little bit like didn’t believe that I can do it, so I changed that. I played very well the last four balls. That gave me so much confidence for the second set.”
No. 21 Svitolina defeated CoCo Vandeweghe 6-4, 1-6, 6-2.
“Good start. Then I was struggling a bit,” said Svitolina. “I think it was just something in my head. I was just somewhere not on the court. Was really happy that I could find a way to start third set well. Okay, 2-0 down but still I felt that I’m getting there.”
This is the first tournament with a new member of her coaching team – former No. 1 champion Justine Henin.
“I met her first time in her academy in Belgium after winning Roland Garros juniors,” said the Ukrainian. “And then, you know, she’s seven times a Grand Slam champion, so she was always on my mind and I was — you know, she had amazing game.
“She was not that tall, so, you know, there was always some things which I was trying to take from her. Yeah, it’s just amazing that she accepted.”
Sara Errani rallied to win in two hours 22 minutes to beat Madison Brengle 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. Errani led the first set 4-1 and lost the next five games.
“Really strange match, yes,” said the Italian said. “I don’t know. I mean, she had a game that she did not miss a ball sometime. She’s more aggressive. Sometimes she just wait more. So is not easy to play against her. I could have lost easily, so I don’t know why I won the match. There is no explanation to this. Just keep fighting.”
Caroline Garcia reached her first Premier-level semifinal beating Andrea Petkovic 6-3, 6-4.
“You always have to fight very hard and work hard against Andrea,” said Garcia. “She is big fighter, always trying to come back in the match. It was very difficult conditions, very windy, sometimes more than yesterday. So always have to be ready for the ball. Yeah, sometimes was not very nice tennis, not very rhythmic, but you have to stay focused and, yeah, just keep your tactics on.”
All photos by Nida Alibhai