Dubai Final: Barbora Strycova vs Sara Errani
Barbora Strycova and Sara Errani will do battle in an unexpected final match-up at the Dubai Free Tennis Championships on Saturday evening. This is a huge opportunity for both Barbora and Sara, both have exceeded all expectations this week and both will enter this final feeling good about their chances of emerging victorious. The Italian does have a very positive head-to-head record over Strycova having won 5 of their 6 previous matches, however results this week have shown that these records can mean very little.
Barbora Strycova is into her first premier final since Birmingham in 2014. The Czech has arguably been the most consistent player this week, recording 4 solid victories to advance to the final. The Czech started the week with a straight set win over Tsvetana Pironkova before winning 12 of the last 13 games to storm past Julia Goerges in 3 sets. Barbora produced a big upset at the quarter-final stage, recording her first victory over Ana Ivanovic in her fourth attempt with a 7-6 6-3 win. Strycova’s progression through to the final was confirmed with a 6-2 3-6 6-3 triumph over Caroline Garcia. Strycova was the more stable player throughout the match and has continually troubled her opponents with her unorthodox game in tricky conditions in Dubai.
After a poor couple of months, Sara Errani’s run to the final in Dubai has been a welcome change in fortune for the Italian. Errani has been at her dogged best this week, refusing to back down at any stage of a match. Errani’s run to the final started with straight set victories over Saisai Zheng and Yaroslava Shvedova before being forced to work extremely hard for a 4-6 6-1 6-4 triumph over Madison Brengle. The Italian confirmed her spot in a second Dubai final with an extremely hard-fought 6-4 6-4 win over Elina Svitolina. It certainly wasn’t the prettiest match but it was a tough physical battle and it was Errani who was the stronger, braver player and she was rewarded with the victory.
Sara Errani has a very good record against Barbora Strycova, Errani holds a 5-1 head-to-head advantage over the Czech. The most recent match between the pair was an epic at Eastbourne last year where Errani emerged victorious with a 6-2 6-7 7-6 victory. Barbora squandered 2 match points in that Eastbourne clash and has signalled that she is very keen to avenge that loss with a win in the final on Saturday.
This promises to be an extremely close match between two players who seem very evenly matched heading into Saturday’s final. I’m going to give the slight edge to Strycova, the Czech has really impressed me this week and seems to be in the right frame of mind heading into a match with Errani. Despite the head-to-head record, I believe Strycova has the game to beat Errani, a lot of variety and controlled aggression off both sides. Strycova seems to be in better shape physically heading into this match having played far less tennis than Errani this week in Dubai given the Italian’s run to the semi-final in doubles. Nerves will be a big factor in this match, the real difference is likely to be who is able to control their emotions best, this should be a really fun final.