WTA: Dubai Duty Free Championship Finals Preview

Tennis player stands with racquet in hand

We preview the final of the Dubai Duty Free Championship which is set to take place on Saturday 24 February at 17:00.

As with so many finals on the WTA Tour, there is a decidedly Eastern European flavour awaiting Saturday’s showpiece in Dubai. But that’s probably where the similarity ends, with defending champion and overwhelming favourite Elina Svitolina coming up against the almost unheralded Daria Kasatkina.

Having said all that, the young Russian has already accounted for both Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta’s exits, convincing many that she could be on the verge of a career changing victory in Dubai.

To Win
Daria Kasatkina: 5/2 
Elina Svitolina: 1/3

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Daria Kasatkina has been the wildcard during this year’s event. Overcoming a seemingly nightmarish draw en route to an improbable final. Her first opponent was former World Number 2 Radwanksa, while she managed to overcome Johanna Konta in a marathon three hour match in the next round. She then disposed of compatriot Elena Vesnina before that titanic victory over World Number 3 Garbine Muguruza. The way that she kept her nerve to save multiple match points in that second set will certainly embolden her ahead of this match. She showed signs of this emergence in St Petersburg, where she ran into a red hot Kristina Mladenovic in the semi-finals. This would certainly be the biggest win of a career that consists of 1 WTA Title and 7 ITF Titles.

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Defending champion Elina Svitolina had far fewer problems in dispatching of two-time Slam winner Angelique Kerber in the semi-finals. The Ukrainian has further entrenched her status as the big player for the small occasion-; her inability to really make a dent on the Slam stage is quite apart from her general dominance on the tour proper. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the huge-hitting Svitolina- she needed three sets to get past a spirted Qiang Wang in her opening match. But the subsequent processions against Naomi Osaka and Kerber have reinforced her aptitude in this event. Her victory in Brisbane was followed by a credible quarter-final run in Melbourne. She went out early to Kvitova in Doha and will certainly go into this match as the overwhelming favourite to win her 2nd title of the year.

Elina Svitolina leads the head-to-head statistics against young Kasatkina 2-0. Crucially, both of those events were on hardcourts: Svitolina won in New Haven in 2016 before a straight sets victory in the Canadian Masters last season. So all of the logic in this final in pointing towards Svitolina, especially if you take into consideration the court time that Kasatkina has amassed thus far. Her epic victories over both Konta and Muguruza- pugnacious as they were- will have no doubt sapped at the energy levels of the young 20 year old Russian.

Verdict: Elina Svitolina: 1/3
As unappealing as it may appear, I can’t see anything other than a Svitolina victory. And perhaps 1/3 isn’t the worst price for what I think represents a sure-fire winner. 

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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