World champion Angelo Crescenzo advanced to the men’s under-60 kilogram kumite final on the opening day of the Karate 1-Premier League event in Dubai.
The Italian returned to form at Al Wasl Club as he progressed to his first gold-medal bout since winning the world title two years ago.
Crescenzo earned an impressive 5-0 win over Albania’s Orges Arifi at the semi-final stage of the competition.
He will face Kazakhstan’s Darkhan Assadilov, with the world number one having beaten Greece’s Christos-Stefanos Xenos 4-2 in his semi-final bout.
France’s Steven Dacosta was another world champion to thrive on the opening day as he battled into the men’s under-67kg kumite final.
Dacosta was awarded victory over Turkey’s Burak Uygur in the semi-finals after their bout ended scoreless.
He will face a repeat of the 2018 World Championship final, with Brazil’s Vinicius Figueira having won his last-four tie 4-0 against Thailand’s Supa Ngamphuengphit.
There was disappointment for Iran’s Bahman Ghoncheh in the men’s under-75kg division, with the world champion losing 3-0 to Rafael Aghayev of Azerbaijan.
Aghayev will face Italy’s Luigi Busa in the final, with the European champion winning 3-1 against Yermek Ainazarov of Kazakhstan in the semi-finals.
Turkey’s Serap Özçelik Arapoğlu continued her domination of the women’s under-50kg kumite event.
Arapoglu progressed to a second consecutive Karate 1-Premier League final by winning 6-1 against Austria’s Bettina Plank.
She will face former under-21 world champion Nadia Gomez Morales, with the Spanish athlete winning 5-2 over Morocco’s Aicha Sayah to reach a maiden final at senior level.
Egypt’s Yasmin Attia and Ukraine’s Anzhelika Terliuga will meet in the women’s under-55kg final.
Attia beat Germany’s Jana Messerschmidt 2-0 in her semi-final, while Terliuga won by the same score against Turkey’s Tuba Yakan.
The women’s kata competition saw Spain’s Sandra Sánchez live up to expectations, with the world champion easing into the final with a score of 27.94.
She will face the United States’ Sakura Kokumai, who scored 25.42.
Competition will continue tomorrow in the United Arab Emirates city, with the medal bouts taking place on Sunday (February 16).
The event in Dubai is one of the last competitions before the Olympic qualification process ends on April 6.