DUBAI -- Earlier in the week, Jasmine Paolini expressed the inspiration she has drawn from Jannik Sinner and his win at the Australian Open. She also spoke of the profound influence from Italy's Golden generation of women, including the likes of Flavia Pennetta, Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vinci and her friend and mentor Sara Errani.

"I think at the beginning they were comparing us to the old generation, but now they are focusing more on men's tennis, which is good because we don't have any kind of bad pressure," Paolini said. 

This time, it was Paolini who crafted her own story. Hours after her breakthrough win at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,  she was still at a loss for words. On Saturday, the 28-year-old came back to defeat Anna Kalinskaya 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 to win her second career title and first at the WTA 1000-level.

"I think every person has her own steps, story," Paolini told reporters. "I needed some more time to believe maybe that I could play at this level, how I did this week. I know it's not going to be like this every week. It's tough. It's the best players in the world.

"But I'm here enjoying my tennis, enjoying the matches on court. I'm just loving what I do, just trying to live in the present, to stay there, to make the best I could do in that moment."

Three days later, Paolini won in Dubai. She capped off her press conference by asking the tournament if she could take the trophy to the Wall of Champions to take a selfie "with Sara." Errani won the title here in 2016. Paolini and Errani paired up earlier in the month and won the doubles title in Linz. 

"We did many exercises to volley better because she's volleying unbelievable," Paolini told WTA Insider. "Me, I can improve her a lot. 

"It feels great to have her on my side practicing together. And also she's telling me some tips on court. She is more experienced than me and she played at an unbelievable level. So she knows how tennis works. I think she's also a very clever person."  

Paolini came into the 2024 season with modest goals. She has steadily improved year-over-year since breaking into the Top 100 in 2019 and began this season ranked No.30. Her goals for the year were modest. She wanted to be seeded at the Grand Slams and win a tournament. 

It's not even March and she's cleared both hurdles. 

"I'm focusing on the process, on improving my game, because I think that this is the key, to try to do better because I don't want to have too much high expectations because this is not good for me," Paolini said. "But my coach told me the goal this year is to win a tournament. I didn't expect was so early and such a big event."

Nothing could prepare Paolini for her week in Dubai. She was down a set and a break to No.11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the first round. She went on to win that match and scored two more Top 30 wins over Maria Sakkari and Sorana Cirstea. After coming from a set and a break down in the final and overcoming a 5-3 deficit in the third set, Paolini will soar to a new career-high of No.14 on Monday. 

Paolini plans to celebrate her win with her family in Tuscany, a trip that is as much a reward as a celebration. 

"I think I want to go to my family house just to meet them, to hug them," Paolini said. "I don't see them very often because of the work I do. Just the simple things, and then we have to refocus because there is another important tournament."

More from Dubai

Here's some additional notes from the year's second WTA 1000 event:

Honor Roll

Anna Kalinskaya: The 25-year-old started the year strongly with her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open (beating Paolini to get there) and she backed that up with a run to this week's Dubai final -- her first WTA singles final, and at a WTA 1000 event no less.

After qualifying, Kalinskaya beat three Top 10 players in a row -- Jelena Ostapenko, Coco Gauff and World No.1 Iga Swiatek -- before her narrow loss to Paolini in the final. Kalinskaya had only three Top 10 wins in her career prior to this year, but she has already added four more in 2024.

Storm Hunter and Katerina Siniakova: A newly regular pair this season, the two former WTA Doubles World No.1 players notched their highest-level title as a partnership, powering through the Dubai doubles draw without the loss of a set.

Champions Corner: Hunter, Siniakova cement formidable partnership in Dubai

Sorana Cirstea: The 33-year-old Romanian continued her hard-court renaissance by making the Dubai semifinals. Over the past 12 months, Cirstea has posted massive results at some of the biggest hard-court events -- last year, she reached the Miami Open semifinals, as well as quarterfinal showings at Indian Wells and the US Open.

Hot Shot

Elena Rybakina curls the ball just inside the line in her Dubai Round of 16 match:

Notable Numbers

9: Jasmine Paolini has already won nine tour-level main-draw matches in 2024. Last year, Paolini did not hit that number until July.

2: With her victories over Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek, Anna Kalinskaya became the second qualifier to beat two Top 3 players at a single WTA event in the last 40 years. She joins Amelie Mauresmo, who defeated Lindsay Davenport and Jana Novotna as a qualifier at 1998 Berlin.

13: In Dubai, Iga Swiatek reached the 13th WTA 1000 semifinal of her career. Since the WTA 1000 tier was introduced in 2009, only she and Victoria Azarenka have reached 13 WTA 1000 semifinals before the age of 23.

33: At 33 years and 320 days old, Sorana Cirstea became the oldest player to make the Dubai semifinals since the inception of the tournament in 2001.

From the Camera Roll

World No.1 Iga Swiatek tackles a long line of autographs after her opening match in Dubai:


Next Up

The Hologic WTA Tour now heads into the Americas, where it will stay for the next six weeks. Two weeklong events in the United States will commence on Monday.

The WTA 500 San Diego Open in California features Jessica Pegula and Beatriz Haddad Maia as the top two seeds, with former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki in the main draw as a wild card.

San Diego 2024: Dates, draws, prize money and everything you need to know

Running concurrently is the WTA 250 ATX Open in Austin, Texas. Anhelina Kalinina leads the draw as the No.1 seed, and two former Top 10 players from the United States, Sloane Stephens and Danielle Collins, round out the top three seeds.