Halep, Pliskova reach final in Dubai

Dubai, United Arab Emirates ( - Top seed Simona Halep and rapidly rising Czech star Karolina Pliskova secured berths in Saturday's final at the $2.5 million Dubai Tennis Championships.

The world No. 4 Halep and 18th-ranked Pliskova have never met at the WTA level.

The French Open runner-up Halep dropped a lackluster opening set before charging back to beat third-seeded former world No. 1 star Caroline Wozniacki, 2-6, 6-1, 6-1. The U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki was the Dubai champion in 2011.

The Romanian Halep is now 2-1 lifetime against the Danish Wozniacki.

"When I started the match I started with bad tactics -- I was just hitting every ball and I made too many mistakes. I couldn't find my rhythm," Halep said. "In the second set I knew I had to change it and just play with good length and open the court more. I knew I couldn't force it too much like I did in the first set. That worked very well for me, and I just kept doing it until the end of the match."

Wozniacki struggled with a cold throughout the week.

"I think it's taken a toll on me, but I'm still pretty pleased with my week considering everything that has been going on," Wozniacki said. "But today it was like the air of the balloon just kind of went out."

Meanwhile, playing through a sand storm the 17th-seeded Pliskova outlasted fellow rising young star Garbine Muguruza, of Spain, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 in just under three hours in Friday's semifinal action at Aviation Club Tennis Centre.

Pliskova and Muguruza have now split two career WTA meetings.

"I feel amazing, I really didn't expect to get to the final here," Pliskova said. "We both have great serves, so it's always going to be tough to break, even if you have 0-30 or 0-40, it doesn't mean anything until you get that final point. I put everything into my serve to get that final game."

The 23-year-old Halep is 9-6 in her career WTA finals, including a title in Shenzhen, China, last month.

The 6-foot-1, 22-year-old Pliskova is 3-4 in her career finals, including a runner-up finish in Sydney last month. She appeared in five finals last year, going 2-3.

The 2015 Dubai champion will claim $456,000.