A wild week in Dubai is finally coming to a closure as the final day of the Middle East has arrived, with Elina Svitolina and Daria Kasatkina the remaining two competitors of the week. Both players have endured tough competition to reach this stage of the tournaments; who will come up trumps in the end? Read on for the preview…
 Elina Svitolina (No.4) vs Daria Kasatkina (No.24)
Elina Svitolina seems to play her best tennis in Dubai and this has happened again this week where she has reached another final in the desert as the defending champion. Svitolina has already one trophy to her collection this year, in Brisbane, and is just one step away from defending her Dubai title. It hasn’t been all roses for Svitolina this week though, as she was forced to work hard many a time. Svitolina started the week poorly but eventually managed to get past Wang Qiang in three sets, before navigating the hard-hitting of Naomi Osaka to come through in straights. Svitolina confirmed her second visit to the Dubai final in a comfortable victory over Angelique Kerber, with the latter surprisingly out of sorts in the match.
Daria Kasatkina is having a stunning week in Dubai and even though some aspects of her game haven’t been there for her this week, the youthfulness and competitiveness of the 20-year-old is what has brought her to the Dubai showpiece this weekend. Kasatkina has battled past the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Johanna Konta, Elena Vesnina and now Garbine Muguruza, saving match points in two seperate matches to progress to her second Premier final.
Kasatkina’s confidence definitely disappeared after her Doha endeavors, where she retired from her first round match, and her serve was looking visibly weak and unstable all week. However it was her fighting spirit that has shone through in Dubai, especially in her semifinal against Muguruza. Kasatkina wasn’t at her best and quickly fell behind by a set and break down. However when Muguruza was serving for the set, the nerves quickly came in and Kasatkina managed to break Muguruza at that important moment. The second set went into a tiebreak, arugably the tiebreak of the year as they exchanged 20+ shot rallies and missed chances to take the set.
Muguruza had match points of her own, but was unable to take them as Kasatkina raised her level with two stunning inside out forehands on those points. The Russian then needed four set points to take the set, the last one where she prevailed on with her amazing retrieval skills. The final set was the first appearance of peak Dasha, as she bamboozled past a sloppy Muguruza who struck 60 unforced errors at the end of the match.
Head to head: Svitolina leads the head to head 2-0, with both of her wins coming on hard courts. Both matches have been relatively tight, with Svitolina winning their most recent encounter 7-6(4) 6-4.
Stat: Kasatkina has spent more than 9 hours on court this week, while in contrast Svitolina has spent less than five hours on the court.
Thoughts: Both players have a similar gamestyle on court – Svitolina and Kasatkina possess counter-punching games; both are quick in their movement and can turn defense into offense pretty easily. However, I think that Svitolina does everything a little better than the Russian. Svitolina possesses a faster and quicker serve, has more solid groundstrokes, and has way more experience than Kasatkina. The stat aforementioned also could be the key factor; Kasatkina will definitely be fatigued from her previous three-setters and playing on the biggest stage of her career (I would say Dubai is a bigger tournament than Charlestion) I expect some huge nerves. I think Svitolina will be able to take her opportunities when it matters, and claim her 11th WTA title of her career.
Final Prediction: Elina Svitolina d. Daria Kasatkina in two sets
Dubai predictions are here! Thanks for reading!