DOHA: Karolina Pliskova and Caroline Wozniacki will meet each other in the Qatar Open final after both won two matches on a long, soggy and gruelling on Friday in Doha.
On another day punctuated by heavy showers and thunderstorms, meaning long delays for the players, Czech Pliskova beat Zhang Shuai of China 6-2, 6-0, then Dominika Cibulkova in an exciting semi-final 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. Her playing day began at 12:30 local time (0930 GMT) ending just before 11pm.
Similarly, Dane Wozniacki first beat American qualifier Lauren Davies 7-5 6-1, then Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig 6-1, 6-2, finishing past midnight. Puig was also playing her second match of the day having earlier completed her victory against Daria Kasatkina of Russia, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
“It’s been really tough conditions with all the waiting and everything,” said Wozniacki. While Pliskova said, “Every final is tough.”
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The pair have met three times before, with Wozniacki winning on every occasion. However, they have not met since 2014.
Pliskova, 24, is ranked number three in the world, Wozniacki, who is two years older, is number 18.
Incredibly, it also means the rain-ravaged tournament may even finish on time, despite the schedule being battered because of the terrible weather conditions throughout the week.
Friday was one of the worst days yet, with delays up to around five because of thunderstorms. It took some 12 hours to complete just five singles matches. If the final does go ahead on Saturday it will come as a great relief to organisers.
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Indeed, just hours before Pliskova and Wozniacki won through to Saturday’s shootout, organisers were talking about the tournament finishing without a winner because of the huge number of rain delays during the week as Qatar experiences some of its wettest weather in years.
Tariq Darwish Zainal, secretary general of the Qatar Tennis Federation, said play would not continue after Sunday even if the final matches could not be played.
Rain has delayed play on every single day, virtually wiping out all matches on two separate days.
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“The WTA gives us one [extra] day, if we don’t finish all the matches the tournament finishes without a winner,” said Zainal.
The forecast for Saturday is indifferent and Wozniacki added that she was “just hoping for good weather” for the final.
The Qatar Open is scheduled to finish on Saturday, but has the option of extending to Sunday.
Zainal added that Doha is looking at building a new 12,000-seater stadium, which will include a roof which could be ready by 2021.