DUBAI, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Sara Errani beat doubles partner Roberta Vinci 6-3 6-3 in a subdued all-Italian semi-final at the Dubai championships on Friday.
The fifth seed will now player former world number one Caroline Wozniacki or 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in Saturday’s final.
Errani and Vinci are the world’s top-ranked doubles pairing, having won three of the past four grand slams.
They also practice together and that made for a strange encounter, with neither player celebrating winning key points.
“It was very tough playing against a friend, sometimes it happens and you just have to try to play normally,” Errani, 25, said in a court-side interview.
The world number seven now has a 5-2 winning record against Vinci, coming out on top in their last five meetings including in last year’s U.S. Open quarter-finals.
Vinci had shown the better form in Dubai, winning in straight sets in the opening three rounds and beating top 10 opponents in Germany’s Angelique Kerber and Australian Samantha Stosur along the way, but she faltered against her buddy, winning only two of nine service games.
Errani also struggled initially with serve, the first three games won by the returner.
Vinci had the chance to make it four after a stooping Errani played an attempted lob too short and, arching backwards, she put away a smash winner to earn a break point.
Vinci then reached Errani’s drop shot, but could only scoop the ball long and the 2012 French Open finalist went on to hold for a 3-1 lead.
Both players are petite by modern tennis standards and the match was more about finesse than power as they hugged the baseline.
The slower pace made for long rallies, Errani seeing out her next service game with a disguised drop shot following a prolonged exchange.
Serving for the set, Errani’s nerves seemed to get the better of her and Vinci earned three break points after stepping inside the baseline to bludgeon a cross-court winning return. She did the same on the next point to close to 5-3 behind.
When Vinci did try to inject more power into her shots, she was often found wanting and although she saved two set points on her own serve, Errani was not to be denied on a third as another poor backhand ceded her the first set.
The players traded breaks at the start of the second set and overall eight of the first 11 games went against serve.
Errani, again playing with a heavily strapped left thigh, went 4-1 up in the second and she eventually saw out the match. (Editing by Alison Wildey)