Fight fire with fire. It’s the sage advice Daria Gavrilova and Dominika Cibulkova will subscribe to as they duel for the 2017 Connecticut Open title on Saturday.
Two of the more diminutive competitors on tour, what both lack in height they make up for in grit, foot speed and sheer unconcealed emotion.
The enormous boost in confidence a victory in New Haven would provide to either woman is no secret.
Cibulkova, the No.2 seed, enters favorite and after ending 2016 in the finest way possible – with victory in the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore – she arrives in her first final since that breakthrough.
By her own admission she has taken time to adjust to her newfound expectations.
A title would end that dry spell and resurrect her season.
For 23-year-old Gavrilova this is her second final of the season, just the third of her career. A maiden career title is on the line for the Australian.
Cibulkova and Gavrilova have met just once before in the second round at Wimbledon last year where the Slovak prevailed in two. Much has changed since, however.
Cibulkova had not strung together three straight match wins since her WTA Finals title run last season until her New Haven campaign.
Her toughest ask came in her opening three-set clash with Alize Cornet. Subsequent victories over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and qualifier Elise Mertens have steeled her for the decider.
Gavrilova, meanwhile, ground out tough wins over Kristyna Pliskova and Timea Babos before raising her game in straight-sets dismissals of Kirsten Flipkens and defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska.
Gavrilova’s thoughts after ending Radwanska’s title defense on Friday night could well ring true again should she go on to deny the top two seeds in succession.
The women’s doubles final will see Gavrilova’s compatriots Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua take on the Canadian-Chinese duo of Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu.
Second-seeded Barty and Dellacqua took down Belgium’s Elise Mertens and Czech lefty Kristyna Pliskova 6-2, 6-1 in just 46 minutes on Friday, while fourth-seeded Dabrowski and Xu earlier accounted for American-British pair, Nicole Melichar and Anna Smith 7-5, 6-3.