Anna Kalinskaya highlights her key to stunning upset of Iga Swiatek

Anna Kalinskaya
Anna Kalinskaya celebrates after beating Iga Swiatek of Poland.

Qualifier Anna Kalinskaya knew that she had to stay calm and play positively if she was to have any chance at all of snapping Iga Swiatek’s winning streak and reaching the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Kalinskaya took one hour and 42 minutes to seal a clinical 6-4 6-4 victory over the world No 1.

Swiatek’s loss is only her second in the previous 26 matches, dating back to last September’s WTA 500 event in Tokyo.

Kalinskaya, who was ranked No 40 in the world heading into Dubai, is the sixth-lowest ranked player to reach the final in the tournament’s two-decade history, and the first qualifier to feature in the championship match.

“I knew if I didn’t stay calm and aggressive she will destroy me,” said Kalinskaya, speaking after the win.

It was Kalinskaya’s first ever match against Swiatek and she was understandably thrilled with the outcome.

Kalinskaya had already bested ninth-ranked Jelena Ostapenko and world No 3 Coco Gauff prior to her meeting with Swiatek so she brought tremendous confidence to the encounter.

“I’m happy I got to play against her and I’m sure we’ll see a lot of each other in the future,” added Kalinskaya.

She will face World No 26 Jasmine Paolini of Italy in Sunday’s all-unseeded final, the first at WTA 1000 level since two former Top 10 players, Caroline Garcia and Petra Kvitova, faced off in the title match in Cincinnati in 2022.

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Finalists Kalinskaya and Paolini last met back at the Australian Open in January, with the Italian coming out on top 6-4 6-2 in Melbourne.

It will be the fourth all-unseeded final in tournament history, following Venus Williams vs Alize Cornet in 2014, Sara Errani vs Barbora Strycova in 2016, and Jelena Ostapenko taking on Veronika Kudermetova in 2022.

Kalinskaya had previously gone 0-2 in WTA semifinals, losing in Washington, D.C. in 2019 and Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2022.

Kalinskaya is the fourth qualifier to ever reach the Dubai semifinals and the second to ever reach a WTA 1000 final. Garcia, the former world No 4, qualified for the aforementioned Cincinnati tournament in 2022 and went on to win the title.

Kalinskaya’s win against Swiatek is her first over a World No.1, but it is her third Top 10 win of the week, following victories over Ostapenko in the third round and Gauff in the quarter-finals. The 25-year-old now has seven career Top 10 wins, and curiously, her victory against top-ranked Swiatek is her first over a Polish player on tour.