Tournament qualifier Yuliya Hatouka continued her fine form in Dubai to storm into the finals of the Al Habtoor Women’s 25K on Friday.
In the first semi-final, the WTA-ranked 300th player from Belarus eased past the tournament’s sixth seed Na-Lae Han in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 to set up a final showdown with Great Britain’s Jodie Anna Burrage on Saturday.
The WTA-ranked 258th Burrage had a tougher semis outing against Russia’s Anastasia Zakharova, but in the end, prevailed over the 254th-ranked opponent 6-3, 7-6 in a match that lasted 1 hour and 42 minutes.
Earlier, the match between Hatouka and Na-Lae saw the South Korean completely out of sorts in the first set. While the Belarussian won two of the five break points on offer on Na-Lae’s serve to take the first set 6-2, the second set saw a hint of a fightback from the more fancied Korean.
However, Hatouka managed to win three break points in this set as well -- out of seven on offer -- as compared to Na-Lae, who won two break points out of 8 chances, to win the set 6-4 and with it, the match in 1 hour and 19 minutes.
In the second semi-final, Burrage’s service made all the difference as she out-aced her Russian opponent eight aces to one.
While the Britain had a relatively easier first set, which she won 6-3, the second set saw the Russian fighting back to take the set into a tie-break. Here too, the two players fought tooth and nail, but eventually, the Briton won the tie-break 7-5 to take the second set 7-6 and, with it, book her place in the final.
Meanwhile, Tournament Director Noura Badawi said: “It was thrilling to watch Yuliya Hatouka and Jodie Anna Burrage’s performances throughout the week and witness the upsets they both produced to rightly earn their places in the final.
“Nobody at the beginning of the week would have predicted that a qualifier will reach the final of the inaugural edition of the Al Habtoor Women’s 25K.
“They have produced performances of the very highest quality throughout the week, and we can surely look forward to a wonderful match on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, in the doubles competition of the tournament, Tara Moore of Great Britain pairing with Emina Bektas of the US, reached the final after beating the Russian duo of Ksenia Laskutova and Oksana Selekhmeteva 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-finals.
They will face the Turkish duo of Berfu Cengiz and İpek Oz, who got the better of their South Korean opponents Han Na-Lae and Choi Ji-hee 6-2, 6-2 in the other semi-final.
Na-Lae thus suffered a double setback as she had earlier failed to make the final of the singles competition.