DUBAI — No.26 Jasmine Paolini and No.40 Anna Kalinskaya have notched upset after upset to set Saturday’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships final, where a new WTA 1000 champion will be crowned.

Here’s what you need to know:

When is the singles final?

Both singles and doubles finals will be played on Saturday, Feb. 24. The doubles final will begin at 5 p.m., followed by the singles final at 7 p.m.

The local time in Dubai is Gulf Standard Time (GMT +4).

What are the points and prize-money at stake?

Dubai is the second WTA 1000 tournament of the season. By making the final, Paolini has assured herself 650 points and $308,320 in prize money. Kalinskaya has earned the same, but will add an additional 30 points and $8,800 from her successful qualifying campaign.

If Paolini wins on Saturday, she will boost her total take to 1,000 points and $523,485 in prize money. If Kalinskaya wins, she will take home a total of 1,030 points and $532,285.

By making her first WTA 1000 final, Paolini has assured herself a Top 20 debut on Monday. Kalinskaya will rise to a new career-high ranking inside the Top 30 and could make her Top 20 debut with the title.

How did Kalinskaya and Paolini get here?

Kalinskaya, 25, showed her run to the Australian Open quarterfinals last month was no fluke. Ranked No.40, she came through qualifying and scored three straight Top 10 wins to make the biggest final of her career. In the Round of 16, she dispatched No.9 Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 7-5 and then came from a set down to defeat No.3 Coco Gauff 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 to tally her first Top 5 win.

Then on Friday night, she did one better. Facing World No.1 Iga Swiatek for the first time, she came from 4-2 down in the first set to win 6-4, 6-4. The victory was her first over a World No.1. She is just the second qualifier in the last 40 years to defeat two Top 3 players in a tournament. Amelie Mauresmo did in Berlin in 1998 with wins over Lindsay Davenport and Jana Novotna.

Kalinskaya has now defeated four Top 10 players in 2024, one more than in her entire career prior to this season. Her reward? Her first WTA final.

Qualifier Kalinskaya stuns No.1 Swiatek in Dubai semifinals

Paolini, 28, came into the tournament having lost in the first round at three of her four tournaments this year. Her lone highlight came at the Australian Open, where she advanced to the Round of 16.

Now she’s into her first WTA 1000 final.

The 28-year-old Italian found her form and confidence immediately. Since losing the first set to No.11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in the first round, Paolini has not lost a set. She went on to upset the Brazilian and added wins over Leylah Fernandez and Maria Sakkari before receiving a walkover from No.3 Elena Rybakina in the quarterfinals.

Facing Sorana Cirstea in the semifinals, Paolini held off the Romanian to win 6-2, 7-6(6). The victory gave the Italian three consecutive wins over Top 30 opponents for the first time in her career.

How do they stack up?

Paolini and Kaliskaya will meet for the second time this year and once again, the stakes are high. The two faced off at the Australian Open with a spot in their first Grand Slam quarterfinal on the line. Kalinskaya won 6-4, 6-2.

The win leveled her head-to-head record against the Italian to 1-1.

What milestones are at stake on Saturday?

Kalinskaya is bidding to win her first WTA singles title by becoming the first qualifier to win a WTA 1000-level tournament since Caroline Garcia won Cincinnati in 2022. She would also become the third player to win their first title at a WTA 1000, joining Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka, who both broke through at Indian Wells.

Paolini trying to become the second Italian champion in Dubai, following in the footsteps of Sara Errani, who won in 2016. She could become the third Italian champion at a WTA 1000, joining Flavia Pennetta (2014 Indian Wells) and Camila Giorgi (2021 Montreal).

A victory would net her a second career singles title. Her first title came on hard court at 2021 Portoroz.

Saturday’s final will be the fifth all-unseeded WTA 1000 final, after 2022 Cincinnati and Wuhan in 2017 and 2018. It is the fourth time it has happened in Dubai: Venus Williams vs. Alize Cornet (2014), Sara Errani vs. Barbora Strycova (2016) and Jelena Ostapenko vs. Veronika Kudermetova (2022).

It is just the third WTA 1000 final to feature two players ranked outside the Top 20.

What are they saying?

Paolini: “I’m really happy. It’s something that if somebody would have told me before this week, I wouldn’t believe maybe. But yeah, now I’m in the final, so let’s enjoy. I’m enjoying the week. I hope to enjoy tomorrow the match, to play my best game.”

Kalinskaya: “I think [the Australian Open win] gives me confidence because I already know how she plays, so I have an idea what I need to do, what to be ready for. Yeah, I think it’s something I can think about and be more prepared. But tomorrow is a different match. I just need to wake up and do my best.”

Paolini: “I think [Kalinskaya’s] moving really well and she’s playing really deep. When I played against her in Australian Open, she was also returning really deep and I couldn’t start the point well. She was really also consistent, not many mistakes.

“If you want to beat her, I guess you have to play deep and to try to do not too many mistakes, but also to try to hit winners, to hit the ball, to push her away from the court because if not, she’s going to move you.”

Kalinskaya: “She runs very good. She fights every single ball. She’s very tricky. She has good hands. Of course, she has a boost of confidence I’m pretty sure. This year she’s doing great. She can surprise.”

Source: https://www.wtatennis.com/news/3908036/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-dubai-2024-final

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