Bencic tops 2-time Dubai champ Svitolina; Kvitova in final

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina returns the ball to Switzerland's Belinda Bencic during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan returns to Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan returns the ball to Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Switzerland's Belinda Bencic celebrates after winning over Ukraine's Elina Svitolina during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova returns the ball to Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Switzerland's Belinda Bencic reacts after winning over Ukraine's Elina Svitolina during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova reacts after winning a set against Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan during their women's singles semifinals match of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — As Belinda Bencic fell into a dangerous deficit in the Dubai Championships semifinals, she threw her racket and yelled at herself. One game from losing to two-time defending champ Elina Svitolina, Bencic was about to do what she's been doing all week: getting out of trouble and coming back to win.

Bencic stopped Svitolina's bid for a third consecutive title at the hard-court tournament Friday by beating her 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3).

The 45th-ranked Bencic won her third match in a row after trailing against a top-10 opponent and now will face yet another, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, in Saturday's final.

"I kind of like these dramatic matches," Bencic said with a laugh after erasing a 5-3 hole in the third set against No. 6 seed Svitolina. "I don't know why."

Kvitova advanced to her third final of 2019 by edging Hsieh Su-wei 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Kvitova picked up her tour-high 17th victory of 2019.

Bencic, a 21-year-old from Switzerland, is seeking her third career title. Kvitova is trying to win her 27th; she is 26-8 in finals.

Kvitova has won all three previous matchups between the two players in straight sets, including a 6-1, 6-4 win in the third round of the Australian Open last month. Kvitova was the runner-up in Melbourne.

Bencic is having quite a run in Dubai. She saved six match points against eighth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round, then came back after dropping the opening set to beat third-seeded Simona Halep in the quarterfinals.

So it really wasn't anything new when Bencic broke while Svitolina served for their match at 5-4 in the third, then ran away with the tiebreaker, ending the match with a backhand lob winner on the run.

"I feel like I've been playing better when I'm 3-5 down. So probably I should try (that in my) next match, as well," Bencic joked.

As for why she's had so much success after falling behind in match after match, she said: "I think I relax. ... I feel much freer."

Kvitova is trying to add a second Dubai title to the one she won in 2013.

Hsieh, who is ranked 31st and hits two-handed shots off both sides, had eliminated a trio of top-10 seeds already and grabbed five games in a row against Kvitova to take the opening set and go ahead 1-0 in the second.

"She's very tricky," Kvitova said.

"I didn't really play the best in the end of the first set. But I calmed down afterward a little bit," Kvitova said. "With her, I need to be a little bit patient. ... It's not really that easy to make those winners against her."

The players traded three service breaks to begin the third set before Kvitova held for a 3-1 lead and was on her way.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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