Barbora Krejcikova took home the first WTA 1000 title of her career after pulling off a 6-4, 6-2 upset of World No.1 Iga Swiatek in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships singles final on Saturday.
The former World No.2 Krejcikova grabbed her first singles title of the year, and sixth of her career, with the 91-minute stunner of the top seed Swiatek. Krejcikova beat the world's top three players consecutively to clinch the title.
"I think I showed my best tennis this week," Krejcikova said in her press conference. "I'm really happy with the way how I played, how I was able to play my tennis but also hold the nerves, just enjoy everything that was happening during this week on the court."
Beating the best: Saturday's win marked Krejcikova's fourth victory over a Top 10 player this week. That feat began in the second round, where the Czech had to save four match points against World No.8 Daria Kasatkina.
"That match that got really close, I almost lost in the second round, I mean, it gave me confidence," Krejcikova said. "I think from there on, I was just starting to play, every single game, better tennis."
Following that escape, Krejcikova closed out the tournament by defeating the top three players in the WTA rankings in succession: No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals, No.3 Jessica Pegula in the semifinals and World No.1 Swiatek in the final.
Krejcikova becomes the fifth player to beat the Top 3-ranked players at the same event, joining:
"It's a huge privilege," Krejcikova said. "It's a big achievement and I think it's going to give me a lot of confidence that I can play with the best ones."
Rivalry leveled: After losing their first two meetings, Krejcikova has had Swiatek’s number in their past two encounters, both coming in finals. Krejcikova pulled off a gripping victory in last year’s 3-hour and 16-minute Ostrava final, and she needed less than half that time to top Swiatek again.
Since finishing runner-up to Garbiñe Muguruza at this very event two years ago, Krejcikova has won six of her past seven WTA singles finals, including a Grand Slam title at 2021 Roland Garros. Her only lost final during this timeframe was to Paula Badosa at Sydney a year ago.
More from WTA 1000 Dubai: Kudermetova, Samsonova win doubles title
Tale of the match: Krejcikova executed a commanding display in the final, handing Swiatek her first loss in the Pole's six career WTA 1000 finals. Along with firing six aces, Krejcikova won 13 of Swiatek's 17 second-service points (76.5 percent), leading to five service breaks.
Swiatek twice came back from a break down during a back-and-forth first set, but Krejcikova took charge for good by earning a love break for 5-4, punctuated by a backhand crosscourt winner. A love hold gave Krejcikova the last eight points of the opening frame.
Another winning crosscourt backhand gave Krejcikova the first break of the second set as well, and she broke again for 5-2 after a rally on break point ended with an outrageous lob plumb on the baseline:
After that, Krejcikova served out the match with ease to notch another upset in Dubai.
"I love challenges," Krejcikova said. "When there is somebody that is really tough, I just love to go out there and see where I am, if I can beat this player, if I cannot beat this player. It just gives me extra, extra push.
"When you play with Iga, you have to suffer, otherwise you're not going to win because she's everywhere. She plays great shots. She likes to play long rallies. So you have to suffer. I don't mind that."
Back on the rise: Krejcikova is projected to ascend from World No.30 to World No.16 in Monday’s updated singles rankings.
"It's always nice to win a tournament, especially such a big tournament also in Dubai," Krejcikova said. "I was here in the finals a couple years ago. It's a tournament that everything started for me in singles. Very, very special place.
"Definitely I'm going to have this in my mind throughout the season. I will just try to get better again, try to get to these finals and these big matches which I love."