February 12, 2023
World No.9 Belinda Bencic and World No.19 Liudmila Samsonova will meet in Sunday’s final of the inaugural Mubadala Abu Dhabi Open, presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council, after coming through their semi-final encounters on Saturday.
At the International Tennis Centre in Zayed Sports City, second seed and World No.9 Belinda Bencic put on a dominant display to register a comfortable 6-2, 6-3 victory over Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia.
The other singles semi-final saw Samsonova prevail against Qinwen Zheng, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, ending the Chinese World No.29’s impressive run in the tournament which included victories against Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina.
Spectators inside Stadium Court were treated to an entertaining match which saw the best of Bencic. The 25-year-old dominated early to go 3-2 up in the opening set and that was enough for her to take charge, winning the next three games with sixth seed Haddad Maia unable to find a way back.
An early break in the second set put Bencic in control of the tie, although Haddad Maia reduced the deficit to 3-2. However, Bencic had other ideas and stormed the following game without dropping a point, before sealing the match in 1hr and 32 minutes to enter Sunday’s final.
Speaking after the match, Bencic said: “It was a really good match and I prepared well for this game where I executed my shots well, so I’m really happy to have won today.
“At the start of the tournament, the draw was really tough so it’s nice to be in another final and hopefully I can do well.”
She will face a difficult test against Samsonova who needed three sets to overcome Zheng. Samsonova, who had upset World No.11 Veronika Kudermetova in the quarter-finals, hit five aces en-route to claiming the first set 6-4. However, 20-year-old Zheng responded emphatically to take the second set 6-1.
In the decider, both players held her serve before Samsonova broke late on to seal her place in the final.
Meanwhile, Shuko Aoyama and Hao-Ching Chan will need to beat Shuai Zhang and Luisa Stefani if they want to triumph in Sunday’s doubles’ final.
Opening proceedings at Stadium Court, Japan’s Aoyoma and Chinese Taipei’s Chan defeated USA’s Desirae Krawczyk and Mexico’s Guiliana Olmos in three sets, winning 6-4, 2-6, 10-3, in a contest that lasted close to 90 minutes.
In the other semi-final, Stefani and Zhang had to overcome a tricky opening set in their clash against Miyu Kato and Monica Niculescu. After taking a 7-5 advantage, Stefani and Zhang looked comfortable on court, sealing the second set 6-3.