Kuzmova to take on Peng Shuai in final


Dubai: Slovakian youngster Viktoria Kuzmova will take on the experience of China’s Peng Shuai in the singles final of the 21st Al Habtoor Tennis Challenge at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort and Spa on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Kuzmova coasted to an easy 6-1, 6-2 win over Evgeniya Rodina of Russia, while the 32-year-old two-time doubles Grand Slam champion from China powered her way past Swiss girl Stefanie Voegele 7-5, 6-2.

“It’s been a tough week for me coming through most of my matches in three sets. But here I am at the very end of this competition and one last match remaining. I’ve got to give it my best and see what I can do to win this title here,” Kuzmova told Gulf News.

“I will be up against Peng Shuai for the first time and I have watched her a couple of times during her matches here. I have a plan in mind, so let us see how it works out tomorrow [Saturday],” Kuzmova added.

Kuzmova, who reached her career-high No. 54 on the singles rankings in July this year, started off at a blistering pace giving her old opponent from Russia very little time to relax. She took the first set in less than half an hour and then continued keeping Rodina under pressure right at the start of the second to come away winner in less than an hour. “The plan was to try and keep the points as short as possible so that I can get some much-needed rest before tomorrow’s final,” Kuzmova said.

“I stayed aggressive and fast and tried as much as possible to keep the rallies short. Rodina plays well from the baseline, so I tried as much as possible to draw her to the net. That upset her rhythm and I could execute my plan well. Tomorrow is the final and it will be an entirely different match against Peng,” she added.

Peng, whose two Grand Slam titles came in the company of Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei in Wimbledon (2013) and at Roland Garros (2014), admitted that Kuzmova will be a tough opponent in the final. “I am prepared for her and it will be an exciting and close affair on Saturday,” Peng said.

Saturday’s action will commence with the doubles final at 1pm, while the singles final between Kuzmova and Peng will start at 3pm.

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