Going in to the 2013 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams were the top two players in the world and had won four of the five last Grand Slams. The stage was set for the pair to continue their rivalry at this event.
However, neither one of them struck a ball in competition.
Azarenka was forced to withdraw before play began with injury, and Williams pulled out before her opening-round match against Marion Bartoli. With those two gone, the draw became more open as six players among the WTA Top 10 were still in the field.
On the top half of the draw, world No. 7 Sara Errani advanced to the final without facing a seeded player. Meanwhile, the player right behind her in the rankings, Petra Kvitova, advanced to the championship match without the loss of a set.
In their three prior matches against each other, all played in 2012 on hard courts, Kvitova hadn’t experienced much difficulty against the Italian, winning each of the contests in straight sets. She ran her sets-won streak to seven against Errani, taking the first in this match 6-2 in less than half an hour.
In the second set, though, the tables turned as Errani earned a break on Kvitova’s serve. The 2012 French Open finalist then went on a tear, closing out the second set at 6-1 to force a decider.
In the third set, Errani tried to keep up the pressure and threatened Kvitova’s serve in the third point. The former Wimbledon champion held, then turned around and broke Errani in the next game. Serving at 1-4, Errani was broken again, giving the Czech a 5-1 lead. Serving for the championship, Kvitova closed it out with an ace to win her first title in six months.
For the first time in her career, Errani had reached two singles finals before March. A couple of weeks before Dubai, she finished as runner-up at the indoor event in France.
Kvitova’s five match wins en route to the title were her first ones ever at the tournament, as she lost her opening match in her two prior appearances.
This was Kvitova’s eighth career hard-court singles title. In her other two tournament victories, one came on clay in Madrid and another on grass at Wimbledon.
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