Bencic stuns Svitolina to reach Dubai final
February 22 2019 11:52 PM
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Belinda Bencic
#Belinda Bencic of Switzerland is ecstatic after beating Elina Svitolina of Ukraine in the semis in Dubai yesterday. (AFP)

AFP/Dubai

Belinda Bencic made another late winning charge over a Top 10 opponent yesterday to set up a Dubai Championships final against Petra Kvitova. The 45th-ranked Swiss, who once stood seventh in the rankings before a run of back and wrist injuries, came from 5-3 down in the final set to end the 12-match Dubai win streak of defending two-time champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3).
Bencic lost to Kvitova in the Australian Open third round in January — her third defeat in three meetings with the Czech — but said she has great respect for her opponent. “I was supporting her after I lost, she really deserved it,” Bencic said of the eventual finalist in Melbourne.
It has been a remarkable week for Bencic who beat number eight Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, where she saved six match points, and then world number two Simona Halep in the quarter-finals. Second seed Kvitova booked her third final in two months winning a marathon over Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The double Wimbledon winner already owns a title from Sydney last month and lost to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open final.
Kvitova won in Dubai in 2013 and is playing the event for the first time in three years while 21-year-old Bencic has reached her first final since October in Luxembourg. Svitolina, the sixth seed, was broken while serving for victory leading 5-4 in the final set on Friday.
After holding for 6-5, Bencic was then unable to convert on three match points a game later. The tiebreaker was marked by furious shots of the ground from both players, with Bencic connecting on down-the-line winners. She clinched victory with a lob after almost two hours on her fourth winning chance.
Kvitova earned her fourth victory in four meetings over Hsieh snatched the opening set on a pair of breaks, with the Czech forced into a fightback in the second. The world fourth-ranked Czech, with 26 career titles, earned two breaks of her own in the second set, with Hsieh saving a set point in the penultimate game before the contest was levelled at a set apiece.

Murray could make return after surgery, says mother Judy
Andy Murray could return to competitive tennis after undergoing hip resurfacing surgery last month but the former world number one also knows his career might already be over, his mother Judy has said.
Three-times Grand Slam champion Murray said before his first round exit at the Australian Open last month that the tournament could be his last as a professional due to severe hip pain. “I think he will (return),” Judy was quoted as saying by Sky Sports at the Rio Open. “(But) I think he’s aware that it might not be possible. He’s a smart guy, he has a lot of interest in different things, he has a lot of options in life after tennis. But the most important thing is that he’s free from the pain he’s had for 20 months.
“He has a young family, you have to think about the quality of life for the rest of your life. ctually, that’s the most important thing.” The two-time Olympic champion has said surgery was the only option if he wanted to extend his career.

Del Potro reaches Delray Beach quarter-finals
Top-seeded Juan Martin del Potro reached the quarter-finals of the ATP Delray Beach Open Thursday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over American Reilly Opelka. Del Potro, playing his first tournament since breaking his right kneecap at the Shanghai Masters in October, withstood 18 aces from the 21-year-old American, who was coming off his first ATP Tour title at the New York Open on Sunday.
Del Potro, the 2011 champion and world No. 4 next faces American Mackenzie McDonald, who defeated Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 7-5, 6-4. Fourth-seeded American Steve Johnson advanced with a 7-5, 7-5 victory over Italian Paolo Lorenzi. He’ll take on Moldova’s Radu Albot, who survived a mid-match surge from Nick Kyrgios to advance 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in a match marred by the Australian’s outbursts at a fan and linesman.



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