Barbora Strycova made the finals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a hard-fought 6-2 3-6 6-3 victory over Caroline Garcia. It looked like it would be a quick and easy win for Strycova, but Garcia spiced things up in the second set and all the way to the eighth game of the decider we couldn’t tell who would go through.
The 47th-ranked Strycova comfortably won the first set 6-2 and since Garcia, who won less than 50% of points on first serve in the set, looked troubled by a right ankle injury, it seemed like it would be an easy passage into the finals for the Czech. Let me just note that in the first set both players had less winners than unforced errors, but Strycova’s stats were way better, 6/11, compared to Garcia’s 7/18.
The second set continued the story from the first set, as Strycova broke Garcia’s serve right away and went 2-0 up. However, Garcia kicked into higher gear and won four straight games to lead 4-2. Several more ups and downs later, the world No.38 Garcia, helped by Strycova’s double faults, unexpectedly won the second set 6-3.
Garcia opened the decider by breaking Strycova’s serve, but the Czech broke back right away for 1-1 and after many holds that kept the match undecided, Strycova broke Garcia’s serve in the eighth game, which turned to be a crucial moment of the set, and consequently the match. Strycova hit just one ace in the entire encounter and that one came on the match point!
Both players made 43 unforced errors, while Garcia actually hit two winners more than her opponent, 22 to 20.
In the title match, Strycova will face Sara Errani, who came back from behind in both sets to prevail 6-4 6-4 against Elina Svitolina in the first semifinal.