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Qualifier Anna Kalinskaya stuns Iga Świątek and Coco Gauff on remarkable route to Dubai Tennis Championships final

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — It has been a remarkable week for Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya, who began it having just qualified for the Dubai Tennis Championships and ended it playing in the tournament’s final after defeating world No. 1 Iga Świątek and US Open champion Coco Gauff along the way.

By stunning Świątek 6-4 6-4 in the semifinal on Friday, Kalinskaya became just the second-ever qualifier to reach a WTA 1000 final, and the second player to inflict defeat upon the Polish star in her last 26 matches.

But she succumbed to Italy’s Jasmine Paolini 4-6 7-5 7-5 in Saturday’s final, the match slipping away after she had served for the title while a break up and leading 5-4 in the deciding set.

“(Świątek’s) a great player. I know if I don’t stay calm and aggressive she’s going to destroy me,” Kalinskaya, the world No. 40, said after her semifinal victory, according to Reuters.

“That was my plan. To stay aggressive, move her a lot. I’m happy I won. She’s unbelievable. I’m happy I had the chance to play against her. I’m sure we’ll play a lot in the future.”

At first, it seemed that Świątek had the upper hand, as she went a break up and edged 4-2 ahead in the first set but Kalinskaya rallied and completed two consecutive breaks to take the lead.

The 25-year-old raced into a 5-2 lead in the second set, but wobbled after Świątek saved two match points and mounted a comeback to come within touching distance of leveling the second set.

Świątek, however, failed to convert a break point to make it 5-5 and Kalinskaya served out the set to take the win.

She had already defeated world No. 3 Coco Gauff 2-6 6-4 6-2 in Thursday’s quarterfinals for another upset victory, making her form all the more impressive.

Her run at the Dubai Tennis Championships backs up her breakthrough performance at the Australian Open in which she reached the quarterfinals, despite starting the season ranked world No. 80.

That propelled her up the rankings, and she will now rise into the top 30 for a new career-high ranking after her impressive performances in Dubai.

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