Barbora Krejcikova's main-draw debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships will extend all the way to the final day of the event, after her 7-5, 6-2 victory over Jil Teichmann put her into the championship match.
Neither player had dropped a set coming into the final, but it was Krejcikova who prevailed in an hour and 37 minutes, saving two set points in the opening frame to keep her unblemished streak alive.
"Today I wasn’t really playing my best, but also because Jil didn’t really let me play my best," Krejcikova said, in her post-match press conference. "I’m just really happy that I was able to save those two set points in the first set. Then I just found my rhythm a little bit better, then I was just really happy that I was able to close it."
"Since the first match, I felt really good, with the balls, with the court, with the conditions here," Krejcikova added. "I’m just really happy that I can still keep going, that I still feel good, and I’m just enjoying myself all the time when I’m on the court -- winning or even losing, I’m always enjoying being on court."
Overall, Krejcikova saved 10 of 11 break points she faced in the match as she steeled herself on the biggest occasions to reach her second career WTA singles final. Krejcikova's only previous singles final came at Nurnberg in 2017, where she was runner-up to Kiki Bertens.
Krejcikova, a two-time Grand Slam champion in doubles (alongside Katerina Siniakova) and a former WTA Doubles World No.1, posted her best-ever singles result on Friday behind 21 winners, well outpacing the nine from Teichmann.
Teichmann had dropped serve only once all week coming into the semifinal clash, and she continued to stay sturdy on serve in the opening stages of the first set as she held comfortably through 5-4. There, a forehand miscue by Krejcikova gave Teichmann double set point, but Krejcikova used a powerful serve and forehand to excricate herself from that predicament, and the Czech held on for 5-5.
After missing those chances, Teichmann suddenly fired unforced errors to fall behind 0-40 in the next game. Teichmann saved one break point with an ace, but a long error on the next gave Krejcikova the pivotal break. With the momentum having completely turned in her favor, Krejcikova took advantage, holding serve with an ace to grasp a hard-fought one set lead.
In the second set, a flurry of lengthy games ended with three service breaks in a row and Krejcikova holding a 3-2 lead. Krejcikova charged ahead from there as she regularly stormed to the net to take command, and she broke Teichmann at love for 5-2. In the last game, Krejcikova had to save one break point, but she converted her third match point to book a spot in the final.
World No.63 Krejcikova is now the lowest-ranked singles finalist in the tournament's history. The previous lowest-ranked finalist was World No.58 Virginie Razzano in 2009.
Seeking her first career WTA singles title, Krejcikova will now face former World No.1 Garbiñe Muguruza for the Dubai trophy. No.9 seed Muguruza needed seven match points to fend off a challenge from No.10 seed Elise Mertens in the earlier semifinal.
"[Muguruza is] such a good player, I think right now at this moment, she's one of the top players," Krejcikova said. "No matter what the result is going to be tomorrow, I'm just going to go out there and really enjoy, just try to play my best tennis, just try to see what she's actually doing and try to learn a lot of things. [I'll] try to bring my best game and do the best that I can."
In the nightcap doubles semifinal, No.8 seeds Alexa Guarachi and Darija Jurak moved into Saturday's championship match with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jessica Pegula.
Guarachi and Jurak let a commanding 5-1 lead in the second set get narrowed to 5-3 before they broke the Mattek-Sands serve once more to claim the win.
It is the first final of the season for Jurak, while Guarachi has already picked up a title this year, in Adelaide alongside Desirae Krawczyk.