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Svitolina wins Dubai, will debut in top 10

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Elina Svitolina of Ukraine is set to debut in the top 10 after winning her second title of the season at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Saturday.

Svitolina dominated Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2 in the final that started two hours late because of rain.

“It’s big relief, because I knew that if I win this match, I’m gonna be top 10,” Svitolina said. “There was extra pressure. (And) when I was warming up, added even more pressure because they announced it. It didn’t help.”

Svitolina earned her final berth by knocking out top-seeded Angelique Kerber in a three-set semifinal.

The Dubai tournament is the most prestigious title of the six that Svitolina’s won. The previous five were lower-level WTA events, including the Taiwan Open this month. She is on a 12-match winning streak.

Svitolina has won both times she’s played against Wozniacki, although the first at the Miami Open last year was a much harder victory.

Both players were content to remain fastened to the baseline in Dubai, but Svitolina’s firepower set them apart.

“I kind of felt like I ran out of steam a little bit and she took advantage of that,” Wozniacki said. “She stepped it up a little bit, and that was kind of that.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating when you see what you want to do out there and you just can’t do it.”

Svitolina took advantage of her second match point by shutting down Wozniacki with a blistering backhand that painted the sideline.

Beyond losing her serve at love in the second game of the second set, Svitolina saved the other three break points she faced.

This was Wozniacki’s second consecutive final in as many weeks, but she also left without the winner’s trophy from Doha last week. She was now 25-19 in career finals.

“I can take a lot of positives with me from this week,” Wozniacki said. “I’m hoping for a good season.”

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

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SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”

Goerges ends 6-year title wait with victory at Kremlin Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) Julia Goerges ended her six-year wait for another WTA singles title Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the Kremlin Cup final.

Goerges cruised to victory against her Russian opponent, who was ranked one place below her at 28th.

The German swept the first five games of the first set before Kasatkina could even get on the board.

Kasatkina put up more resistance at the start of the second, forcing three break points in Goerges’ first service game, but couldn’t convert them and was broken next game.

Goerges is now 3-7 in career singles finals, with her last title in Stuttgart in 2011. Before Saturday’s match, she had lost six straight finals, including three in the space of two months this summer.