WTA / ATP: Paolini revels in 'unbelievable' Dubai win

 - Reem Abulleil

Italian claims biggest title of her career with victory over Kalinskaya

Jasmine Paolini / Dubaï 2024©Juergen Hasenkopf / Imago / Panoramic

There were breakthroughs witnessed across all corners of the globe these past eight days in the world of tennis.

Here's what you may have missed from the week gone by on the WTA and ATP Tours.

Joy for Jasmine

Jasmine Paolini could not stop smiling after she pulled off an impressive comeback to defeat Anna Kalinskaya 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 and claim the biggest title of her career at the WTA 1000 tournament in Dubai on Saturday.

Just the second Italian woman to triumph in Dubai, after Sara Errani in 2016, Paolini fought back from a set and a break down, as well as a break down in the third, to overcome an in-form Kalinskaya, who had knocked out three consecutive top-10 players en route to her first tour-level final.

Jasmine Paolini / Final Dubai 2024©Jorge Ferrari / DDF Tennis

“I was telling me just play every point, just enjoy, like fight every point,” said Paolini, whose victory earned her a spot in the world’s top 15 for the first time.

“I'm really happy how I managed to come back. It's unbelievable. I don't know. I'm just so happy.”

The 28-year-old Paolini started her week with a come-from-behind victory over No.11 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia and she followed that up with eye-catching success against former US Open finalist Leylayh Fernandez, No.8 seed Maria Sakkari, and big-hitting Romanian Sorana Cirstea (she was handed a walkover due to Elena Rybakina’s withdrawal in the quarter-finals).

Meanwhile, Kalinskaya went on a giant-killing spree, knocking out world No.9 Jelena Ostapenko, No.3 Coco Gauff, and No.1 Iga Swiatek, before narrowly falling to Paolini in the championship match.

The 25-year-old Kalinskaya was looking to become just the second qualifier to win a WTA 1000 tournament and despite her defeat in the final, walks away with many positives from her run in Dubai, which included seven consecutive victories through qualifying and the main draw. After starting the year ranked in 80 in the world, Kalinskaya is now ranked a career-high 24.

“I'm happy about my game, happy for my team. We're doing great. It's a boost of confidence for the future for the whole year,” said Kalinskaya.

Khachanov’s tiebreak prowess

It’s not easy winning a tiebreak 14-12 once. Now imagine doing it twice in as many matches!

Karen Khachanov did just that, once in the semi-finals and once in the final, en route to capturing the title in Doha last weekend.

The No.2 seed overcame Alexei Popyrin 7-6(12), 6-2 in the last-four stage before defeating Jakub Mensik 7-6(12), 6-4 in the final to clinch the sixth trophy of his career.

“I thought yesterday's (tiebreak) was preparation for today, 14-12 (against Popyrin). Today I couldn't believe it was the same score, same tiebreak. I stayed strong, I'm extremely happy that I won the first set. It lifted me a lot and gave me a lot of confidence to step up in the second,” said Khachanov after the final.

Khachanov did not drop a set all week in the Qatari capital and ended the impressive run of the 18-year-old Mensik, who upset world No.5 Andrey Rublev and former Doha champions Gael Monfils and Andy Murray on his way to the final.

Mensik’s reward for a breakout week is a top-100 debut as the Czech teenager rises to a career-high 87 in the world.

Big weeks for Thompson and Baez

At 29 years of age, Australian Jordan Thompson lifted the first ATP trophy of his career and doubled his delight by securing both the singles and doubles titles in Los Cabos on Saturday.

Thompson won three matches – one singles and two doubles – in less than seven hours to cap a dream week in which he rallied back from 0-6, 1-4 against Alex Michelsen in the quarters and overcame Alexander Zverev in a three-hour 41-minute battle in the semis before upsetting Casper Ruud 6-3, 7-6(4) in the final.

“It means the world. I grew up wanting to play on the ATP Tour and never thought I’d be lifting a champion’s trophy. Actually it hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’s one of the best moments of my career, if not the best,” Thompson told atptour.com. He now rises to a career-high 32 in the world as a result.

Meanwhile, Argentina’s Sebastian Baez won the biggest title of his career by defeating his countryman Mariano Navone 6-2, 6-1 at the ATP 500 tournament in Rio.

It was Baez’ fifth trophy overall and first at a tournament higher than a 250-level.