Belinda Bencic fought her way to an upset 6-3 1-6 6-2 victory over Petra Kvitova on Saturday to win the 2019 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title. She is only the third unseeded player to win the title, following Venus Williams in 2014 and Sara Errani in 2016.
She beat an incredible four top 10 opponents during a fantastic week, saving six match points in overcoming Aryna Sabalenka and then defeating Simona Halep and Elina Svitolina before rounding it off with a victory over Kvitova. It is her first tour level title since mid-2015 and comes after she missed several months with injuries that saw her ranking drop from seven to 318. Her victory this week lifts her to world No. 23.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s incredible. I mean, I still cannot believe it,” said Bencic. “Especially I’m realising after two rounds, we were already saying, ‘Wow, this is a great tournament. Now it’s only bonus’.
“Then I won against Sabalenka after being out already. We said the same thing again. Really, the expectations after two rounds were not there anymore. So many times I was close from defeat. It’s unbelievable that I ended up winning this. I mean, of course they are very high-quality players, all of them. I’m so happy about the consistency that I could back up my wins. After playing a tough match, I could mentally win another one. It’s very difficult. Yeah, just very proud of that.”
Kvitova was playing in her third final of 2019, winning Sydney and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open, and she was not only bidding to reclaim the title she won in 2013 but to become the first No. 2 seed to win the tournament after Amelie Mauresmo was defeated in 2007 and Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2008.
“I think was kind of an up-and-down match today,” said Kvitova. “She came strong. I came strong in the second. The third was really a bad game which I played. I don’t know. I just felt that I’m really getting better, that I’m playing better. But in the specific moment in the third set, I just didn’t do the best.”
Kvitova had not dropped a set to Bencic in their three previous meetings, and beat her just last month in Melbourne. But this time it was different.
“I think definitely I served much, much better in Melbourne than here. Whole tournament I was pretty fighting with my serve. Wasn’t really great. I played a lot from the second serve,” she admitted. “My serve just didn’t help me at all. I think, of course, that she was with the confidence here, as well. She won from the match points down, turned it around. I think everything was just on her side.”
To follow up her victory Bencic now plans to go skydiving.
“My dad is saying, ‘Why risk your life’, stuff like that. (But) there is no risk, I think. Bunjee jumping is worse. Skydiving, it’s on my to-do list. We have to do it anyway in my life. We can do it now. Yeah, it’s the first thing we will do in the morning. I’m providing a lot of heart attacks on the court. Now I’m going to provide heart attacks off the court. I mean it very seriously, yeah.
The doubles final was won by Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova, who defeated Lucie Hradecka and Ekaterina Makarova 6-4 6-4. Hsieh also contested the 2018 final with Peng Shuai, and it was her first title together with Strycova since they won Indian Wells in March 2018.
“We started the week with eight of the top 10 players in the world yet an unseeded player has won the title, reflecting the intense competition that we have had the great pleasure to witness throughout the week” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Duty Free. “We congratulate Belinda Bencic on her wonderful achievement, and also congratulate Petra Kvitova for her success in reaching the final once again. We also congratulate Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova who did not drop a set all week in winning the doubles title.”
Tournament Director Salah Tahlak added, “We have enjoyed a fantastic week of women’s tennis that has produced many thrilling contests and surprises, and now we look forward to what is certain to be an equally entertaining week which will see Roger Federer bidding to win the title for an eighth time.”