Paolini defeats Kalinskaya in comeback victory for Dubai title

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Jasmine Paolini earned her biggest title by defeating Anna Kalinskaya 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the Dubai Championships final on Saturday.

Paolini fought back from a break down in the second and third sets en route to the second WTA singles title of her nine-year tour-level career.

The 26th-ranked Paolini and 40th-ranked Kalinskaya defied a field that started with 16 of the top 20 women, including the top four.

Paolini won her first title in Slovenia in 2021 and lost three finals since then. She lost to Kalinskaya a month ago in the Australian Open fourth round. Saturday’s victory assured the Italian of a top 15 debut when the rankings are updated on Monday.

“It’s so special. I’m really happy and really surprised,” an emotional, smiling Paolini said on court.

“I’m just happy that I believed I could win every match. I remember my first match this week. It was second set, I’d lost the first and was a break down, yet now I’m here winning the title. It’s unbelievable.”

Paolini trailed 6-4, 3-1. Then she was 4-2 down in the third set. She stopped Kalinskaya serving for the match at 5-4.

Kalinskaya came through qualifying and beat three top-10 players in a row — including No. 1 Iga Swiatek — to reach her first final. Kalinskaya will debut in the top 30 on Monday.


AP tennis:

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