Ostapenko fights back against Halep to reach Dubai final | Tennis News
The Latvian, who knocked out sixth seed Iga Swiatek in the second round and saved a match point before ousting Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals, will face Russian world number 31 Veronika Kudermetova in the title decider on Saturday.
The free-swinging Ostapenko knocked out four Grand Slam champions en route to the final and denied Halep a chance to claim a third crown in Dubai.
Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open winner, is through to the 11th final of her career, where she will seek to clinch her first hard-court title since 2019.
“Playing the fourth game in a row for a Grand Slam champion is not easy,” said the 24-year-old.
“I’m just happy with the way I was fighting. When things weren’t going my way because I felt a bit exhausted at the start, I needed time to maybe warm up and, yeah, I just managed to win the game.”
It was the third meeting between the pair, and the first since 2017, when an unranked Ostapenko shocked Halep in the Roland Garros final – after outscoring the Romanian by a set and a break – before that Halep does not avenge this defeat in Beijing a few months. later, earning him the top spot.
Halep drew first blood, breaking Ostapenko’s serve in game five before doubling her advantage to claim the first set in just 26 minutes, finishing it off with back-to-back aces.
Ostapenko started the second set with renewed purpose, carving out a 3-0 lead helped by an unusually sloppy service game from Halep. But Halep responded immediately and they were soon back on level.
Double faults began to creep into Halep’s game, and despite saving two set points on her serve en route to the tie-break, the Romanian could not earn a single point in the breaker as Ostapenko took the contest into a decider.
The Latvian big hitter took a 5-0 lead as Halep lost faith in her serve. Serving for the win, Ostapenko fended off two break points before clinching his ticket to the final.
“I knew I had to play aggressively no matter what, regardless of the score,” said Ostapenko, who will return to the top 20 for the first time since 2018 on Monday.
“She really doesn’t like playing against players who play aggressively and take her time. I really knew I had to do it today, the whole game, even though I miss sometimes, which I did. . I think that helped me win.”
Kudermetova reached the final without touching a ball after her semi-final opponent Marketa Vondrousova was forced to retire ahead of their clash, citing a right adductor injury.
The Czech left-hander has won six matches this week in Dubai through qualifying and the main draw but said she must prioritize her health as she focuses on the Qatar Open next week.
“The injury, it started a few days ago and I played so many matches here that it made the injury worse,” said the former Roland Garros runner-up. “I’m really sad to leave the tournament this way, but I still had a great week and I’m proud of the way I played.”