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Jasmine Paolini fends off Sorana Cirstea, sets Kalinskaya clash in Dubai Championships final

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Dubai | February 24, 2024 7:56:30 PM IST
World No.26 Jasmine Paolini defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 7-6(6) in a semifinal clash at the Dubai Tennis Championships to reach her maiden career WTA 1000-level final.

Paolini, who saved six set points in the second set Friday, wrapped up the match in one hour and 57 minutes. With the win, Paolini set Anna Kalinskaya clash in the Dubai Tennis Championships in the final.

"I gave you a little bit of drama at the end," Paolini said in her on-court interview as quoted by WTA.

Before converting her second match chance in the tiebreak, the Italian held her first match point at 5-4 in the second set and saved four of the six set points she faced with crisp forehand wins.

Paolini commanded the first set and a half perfectly. With her strong forehand, the World No. 26 dominated most of the baseline exchanges against a Cirstea that made a lot of mistakes, propelling herself to a 6-2, 3-1 lead. Paolini, who had dropped service for the first time throughout the game, still produced two more flawless forehand returns to take the lead 4-2.

She was not, however, able to hold for 5-2 by taking two points. Cirstea didn't need any more motivation to try a similar comeback after saving six set chances to overcome Marketa Vondrousova 6-2, 5-1 down in the semifinals. Cirstea saved match point at 5-4 down by playing her best point of the game, which culminated in a backhand winner down the line.

As Cirstea attempted to serve out the set at 6-5, the pivotal moment occurred. Paolini had to save five set points in a row during the suspenseful seven-deuce match between the two competitors. She converted her fifth break point with a forehand after continuing to play aggressively, finding winners with her forehand on three of those.

"I had a chance on 4-2, 40-15, but she was starting to play better, to hit winners. And me, maybe I stop a little bit and move my legs. The last two matches I played against her, more or less was the same score. I won the first set, then the second set was a little bit complicated, then I won again the third set," Paolini said.

"I was like, 'Please, if I'm going to lose this set, start again in the third and to move and to play deep again, to push again.' But I was trying to just stay in the present. Was tough. She's playing really well when she's little bit down in the score. She's trying to hit more winners, to play faster. I was trying. C'mon, she cannot make it two times in a row. No, I'm joking," she added.

"I just say to myself to move the legs and try to keep hitting hard the ball, because if not she's going to move me and she's going to hit the winner first," Paolini stated.

After a closely contested tiebreak, Paolini saved a sixth set point at 6-5 by finding her 27th winner of the match, again on the forehand. After two points, she closed the match after a Cirstea backhand went wide on her second match point. (ANI)

 
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