Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

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Kvitova is looking to win her second Dubai title having won her first in 2013. (AFP)
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Updated 22 February 2019
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Petra Kvitova positive ahead of Dubai final against Belinda Bencic

  • World No. 4 wins third three-setter of the week beat Hsieh Su-wei and claim place in the final.
  • Swiss star Bencic deals a forehand smash to Svitolina's chances of unprecedented hat-trick.

LONDON: If Petra Kvitova does get her hands on the Dubai trophy against Belinda Bencic on Saturday, she will be quick to admit she did it the hard way.
The two-time Wimbledon champion was once again made to toil at the Aviation Club as she finally overcame Hsieh Su-Wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. It was her third three-setter in four days and came about as much through sheer grit and determination as any superior groundstrokes or serves.
“Yeah, it was (tough),” the Czech said.
“It was a tough one, 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. Anyway I didn’t play great at the end of the first.”
Coming into the event the world No. 4 admitted she was undercooked and in need of some game time. While, in hindsight, the three-setters against Katerina Siniakova and Jennifer Brady in the first two rounds probably did her some good, another match that went the distance was probably not in the ideal script for the 2013 Dubai champion.
But Hsieh is a tricky opponent and she proved it once again on Centre Court. The world No. 31 hits two-handed shots off both sides and was trying to beat her fourth top-10 seed of the week. That included wins over Angelique Kerber in the third round and Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals.

Bencic will try to upset Kvitova in Saturday's final at the Aviation Club (AFP) 


She started off in much the same vein as she had finished against Kerber and Pliskova, hurrying Kvitova around the court and making life as uncomfortable as possible under the hot Dubai sun.
“She’s very tricky,” Kvitova said about Hsieh, who grabbed five games in a row to take the opening set and go up 1-0 in the second.
“I didn’t really play the best at the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterwards a little bit,” Kvitova said.
“With Hsieh, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It’s not really that easy to make those winners against her.”
While she has 
not consistently displayed her A-game this week it should come as no shock that Kvitova has made today’s final. It was the second seed’s 17th victory of 2019 — a feat bettered by no one — and it will be her third final of the season and 35th of her career. She revealed that her presence in the showdown is thanks to her mental toughness and she admitted that after a long week she will have to draw on that a lot today.
“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was more calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set,” Kvitova said.
“I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow — it was something weird.
“I’m a bit tired right now, to be honest. I have a final, so I don’t know how I going to recover. Hopefully I have a few hours to do something with me.”
Of her sparkling form so far this year she said: “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.
“As I mentioned, the tennis, it’s a bit like escape this week. This is unbelievable to be in the final when I’m escaping from something. Yeah, very interesting.”
In the other semifinal Bencic once again upset the odds to overcome world No. 6 Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-3, 7-6. The Swiss went into the clash as the underdog, but from the off the world No. 45 was aggressive and deservedly won.
In doing so she ended Svitolina’s 12-match winning streak in Dubai and ended the two-time defending champion’s hopes of becoming the first woman to win three Dubai titles in a row.


Australia's Usman Khawaja not thinking about World Cup spot with series against Pakistan to be won in UAE

Updated 19 min 46 sec ago
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Australia's Usman Khawaja not thinking about World Cup spot with series against Pakistan to be won in UAE

  • Batsman's place under threat thanks to return of disgraced duo Steve Smith and David Warner.
  • Aussie s 2-0 up against Pakistan with third ODI taking place in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

LONDON: Usman Khawaja is trying not to think about playing for a World Cup place ahead of today’s third ODI against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.
Australia are 2-0 up in the five-match series but with the World Cup only two months away players are playing for their places in the tournament.
Despite scoring two 100s and four 50s in his past 10 innings since he was recalled to the Australia squad Khawaja’s place is under threat by the imminent return of David Warner and Steve Smith.
The disgraced duo are set to return after their year-long ban for ball tampering and currently playing in the Indian Premier League.
But that does not bother Khawaja who already has scored 24 and 88 in the first two ODI’s in the UAE.
“It’s (World Cup) a long way away. For me, it’s (about) the next three games, (Warner’s return) is not something I have thought about at all. I am just enjoying playing one-day cricket,” the 32-year-old said.
Australia and Khawaja have suddenly come into form at just the right time. They won 3-2 in India and are already 2-0 up against Pakistan. But all too aware that complacency can set in and keen to keep up the winning habit as they prepare for the World Cup, Khawaja has told his teammates to take nothing for granted.
“We saw in India they were 2-0 up and we came back to win that series. It is never quite over. We cannot take it easy now, we have got to finish it off that next game, we cannot relax, we can’t think that we have done all the hard work and that we are fine now,” the batsman said.
“There are still three games left and three games is a long time in cricket. We want to be really clinical and we have got to keep doing it over and over again. Winning’s a habit, so hopefully, we can make it a habit.”
Pakistan go into the clash under fire for comments made by their skipper Shoaib Malik after the defeat in Sharjah on Sunday. Having seen his side trounced by eight wickets Shoaib said Pakistan were simply using the series to “test their bench strength (ahead of the World Cup” and that “winning or losing doesn’t make a difference.”
The pressure is on the hosts and they will be looking for their attack to show some fire. The quicker bowlers in particular have struggled to put Australia under pressure with the new ball, having taken just four wickets all series, conceding a mammoth 566 runs.