Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya became only the second qualifier in history to defeat three Top 10 players, including World No. 1. Iga Swiatek of Poland, to reach the final at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The 25-year-old from Moscow scored the biggest win of her career on Friday when she overwhelmed Swiatek 6-4 6-3 in a Centre Court thriller that served up one hour and 42 minutes of pulsating tennis.

In Saturday’s final (7:00 pm UAE) Kalinskaya faces Italy’s Jasmine Paolini who saved six set points in a tense second set to defeat comeback Queen Sorana Cirstea 6-2 7-6.

Ranked 40th by the WTA Kalinskaya had previously beaten reigning Dubai Duty Free Tennis Champion Jelena Ostapenka, the 9th seed, 6-4 7-5 in the quarter finals and backed that up by dispatching World No 3. Coco Gauff, where she rallied from a set down to defeat the reigning US Open champion.

Her previous wins this week were over Spaniard Cristina Bucsa and Australian Storm Hunter in the main draw and fellow Russian Kamilla Rakhimova and Spain’s Rebeka Masarova in the qualifiers.

Speaking on court soon after her monumental win over Swiatek, Kalinskaya said: “She’s such a great player. I told myself if I didn’t stay calm and stay aggressive I knew she was going to destroy me.

“So that was my plan - to stay aggressive and move a lot. I’m happy I won. She’s unbelievable and I’m happy I had the chance to play against her,” Kalinskaya added.“m sure we’ll play of lot of games together in the future.”

“So very happy for my team, thank you coach (PatriciaTarabini). It’s a pleasure to work with them. I feel physically much better than I was last year. My fitness coach is watching here so that gives me a lot of confidence to play at such a high level,” said the Russian whose parents are both former professional badminton players.

Kalinskaya and Paolini have met twice with one win each, however, the Russian has the edge on recent form having beaten the Italian in the fourth round at this year’s Australian Open in Melbourne.

After reaching her first WTA 1000 final Kalinskaya has proven that she has some of the best form on the WTA having finished 2023 by reaching two finals and winning a title.

Her opponent Jasmine Paolini is equally accomplished and has won three of her matches in straight sets. Only Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia pushed her to the limit in the opening round.

Speaking after her late-afternoon match Paolini said she will not be celebrating with her favourite margherita pizza despite reaching her first WTA 1000 final.

In a battle with two unseeded players, the Italian saved six set points in a tense second set to defeat Cirstea in just under two hours.

"I’ not going to eat a pizza today I'm going to eat after the final I think,” Paolini joked during a post-match press conference

“I'm happy all the match to stay there and to close it in two sets because it was getting tough and tougher,”

Paolini maintained her perfect record against the Romanian, improving to 3-0 overall,

She becomes the fifth Italian woman to reach a final at the WTA 1000 level or over, after Francesca Schiavone, Sara Errani, Flavia Pennetta and Camila Giorgi.

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