DUBAI, UAE - Petra Kvitova will play for her first title in Dubai in six years on Saturday.
The No.2 seed solved Hsieh Su-wei in Friday's first semifinal, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the championship match at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships for the first time since winning the title in 2013.
After having her powerful game expertly neutralized by Hsieh in the opening set, in which she dropped serve twice in the last three games to fall behind from 3-3, the Australian Open runner-up found her range in just over two hours.
"It was a tough one today, for sure. She really didn't give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I'm glad that I was able to came back in the second. I didn't play great at the end of the first," Kvitova said after the match.
"I think I'm pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set.
"I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow. I don't know. It was something weird. It's not really happening often to me, but I headed there, and that's helped me a lot today to kind of feel that I can do that or I can battle to the third."
— WTA (@WTA) February 22, 2019
Though she failed to save either break point she faced in the first set, the Czech denied Hsieh four break chances in the second, all of which came after the two-time Wimbledon champion built a 4-1 lead.
In the decider, Kvitova bounced back to win Hsieh's second service game after the pair traded breaks to begin the set, and took a lead she never relinquished.
The World No.31 would not be easily beaten, however, as she contested her first semifinal at Premier-level or higher, and forced Kvitova to come up with some of her best tennis to seal the match.
"Going to the court knowing that you don't know what will be there, what kind of shot will be there, how she going to return or she will not return, if she's going to miss or making the winners," Kvitova assessed.
"She likes to play down the line a lot. Something that's not really happening many times compared to other opponents. Knowing that, of course, you have to be prepared mentally and physically as well, being very, very low. That's what I really had to do today, as well.
"I was going for the volley sometimes, otherwise I going to play forever those rallies against her. I'm glad the volleys were really working today."
— WTA (@WTA) February 22, 2019
Four of the next five games of the match went past deuce, but ultimately, Kvitova sealed the deal behind her serve, and held to love to advance to the final.
The 28-year-old will contest her third final in five tournaments played this season against either two-time defending champion Elina Svitolina or former Top 10 player Belinda Bencic, who stunned Simona Halep in Thursday's quarterfinals.
"It's a bit weird, to be honest. I didn't really expect anything like that. Well, to be honest, I didn't expect anything, which I already achieved this year. For me, everything is just bonus," she said.
"We played against Belinda in Australian Open. The score looked a little bit easy, but it wasn't easy at all. I saw her playing some matches. She's really on fire, playing really well. I think the surface suits her game, as well. I think it's pretty fast. That's what she likes to play.
"Elina, we played in Singapore, but it's different conditions. Definitely she likes to play here, we can talk about. She's playing a different game, so it will be very interesting match."