DUBAI: Barbora Krejcikova defeated Iga Swiatek to claim the Dubai WTA title on Saturday, becoming just the fourth woman this century to defeat the top three players in the world at the same tournament
For former French Open champion Krejcikova, ranked 30 in the world, it was a sixth career title.
The 27-year-old Czech snapped world No. 1 Swiatek’s six-match, 12-set winning streak with a 6-4, 6-2 result in one hour and 31 minutes, in front of a capacity crowd at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis stadium.
Krejcikova had also defeated second-ranked Australian Open winner Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals and world No. 3 Jessica Pegula in the semifinals.
Only Venus Williams, Serena Williams and Sabalenka have managed to beat all top three players in a single tournament in the 2000s.
“It’s a huge achievement, what I was able to do this week. I was really enjoying all the matches, I definitely love playing on the big courts,” said Krejcikova, who will move up to 16 in the rankings on Monday.
It was a week of great escapes from Krejcikova — who saved four match points against an eighth-ranked Daria Kasatkina in the second round and rallied back from 0-6, 1-3 down in her quarterfinal against Sabalenka.
“This title definitely means a lot. It was a great week for me, I was improving every single game and today I showed my best,” said Krejcikova, who also defeated Swiatek in the Ostrava final last October.
They are now 2-2 head-to-head in career meetings.
“I have so much respect for Iga, to me she is a big inspiration, she motivates me every day. It was a great final and I’m definitely happy with the result,” she added.
A sharp-angled backhand from a nonchalant Krejcikova gave the Czech an opening service break that helped her to a 3-1 advantage.
Swiatek retaliated, getting back on level terms, but her break for three-all kicked off a series of four consecutive games where neither player managed to hold serve.
Krejcikova finally bucked the trend, taking the last eight straight points of the set to claim a 6-4 lead in 44 minutes. It was the first set Swiatek has lost since her Australian Open fourth round defeat to Elena Rybakina last month.
The 21-year-old Pole won Doha last week and arrived in Saturday’s final having dropped just 14 games in six matches in the Gulf.
Swiatek took a toilet break between sets and had a brief argument with chair umpire Pierre Bacchi when she returned to the court, which eventually ended with her receiving a time violation for taking too long.
Both players regained stability on serve early in the second set before Krejcikova found an opening and inched ahead 4-2. That cushion was all the 27-year-old needed to close out a remarkable victory and clinch the sixth singles title of her career.
Swiatek lost a WTA 1000 final for the first time in her career. She had won all five she previously contested coming in.
“I’m pretty sure we’re going to have many finals but hopefully next time it’s going to go my way, because the last two went for you,” Swiatek told Krejcikova after congratulating the Czech during the trophy ceremony.
“Sorry to my team. I’m pretty sure we’re going to get many more, we’re going to keep working.”