It was Jessica Pegula’s birthday on Friday, but Barbora Krejcikova didn’t come bearing any gifts to the Centre Court.
The Czech World No30 took out a seeded player for the fourth straight night at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, having knocked out No7 Daria Kasatkina on the opening night, followed by No12 Petra Kvitova and then the second seed and reigning Australia Open champion Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday.
Pegula, the third seed who turned 29, played despite a heavily-strapped left thigh, and wasn’t her usual self in running after the balls.
Krejcikova took full advantage of her opponent’s situation and lined up her second final in Dubai (she lost to Garbine Muguruza in 2021), where she will take on the world No1 Iga Swiatek.
Beating the rampant Swiatek seems Mission Impossible in women's tennis at the moment, but if Krejcikova wins the final, she could become the first player to win against four top-10 opponents in a single WTA1000 event since Belinda Bencic, who achieved the feat here in 2019.
However, the Czech star is one of the few players who have managed to beat Swiatek in recent times.
Last October in Ostrava, she snapped the five-time WTA 1000 champion’s 10-match winning streak in finals with a 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3 upset. She did lose their previous two head-to-head in Miami and Rome (both in 2021).
“I’m definitely not going to tell you what I’m going to do tomorrow, or how I beat her in Ostrava,” said Krejcikova with a laugh.
“I have to say, it’s always a huge challenge and I love challenges. I expect it’s going to be really difficult because she is in a great form. But I believe that I’m playing well, as well. I think I can find a plan that can push her on the back foot. I believe that I have a chance.”
On the semifinal match, she added: “It was really difficult match. Even though the first set was going really my way, I thought she was going to level up her game, that she was going to start playing better. And she did. She started to serve better. The games started to be really close.
“Unfortunately, even though I wasn't able to convert my chances in the second, I thought I still had a big opportunity in the third.”
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