The two top seeds, Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic and Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, stayed the course at the Rothesay Classic in Birmingham and reached their appointed slots in the final with semi-final wins over China’s Zhu Lin and Anastasia Potapova respectively.
"Definitely feels great, I’m really happy with the way I played today. It’s always difficult to play on the grass because the game can change quickly, so I’m happy how I handled the match, and that I’m in the final. Barbora Krejcikova
Krejcikova saved 4 of 5 break points in a 6-3 6-2 win over Zhu, while Ostapenko eventually outgunned 4th-seeded Anastasia Potapova, 5-7 6-2 6-4 in Saturday’s semi-finals.
The 27-year old Czech top seed, who breezed past the Chinese World No 39 in an hour and 32 minutes, fired 4 aces and won over half the points when returning the Zhu first serve.
The former French Open champion has not dropped a set all week in Birmingham, dominating her matches, and will return to the world’s Top 10 for the first time since May 2022 following her excellent run in Birmingham this week.
“Being in the top 10 is a goal that you have as a kid,” Krejcikova said. “It’s really nice to be back but it’s just numbers so I want to keep going.”
The Czech claimed her maiden Grand Slam singles title in 2021 in Paris, but missed a chunk of last season with an elbow injury and dropped down the rankings as a result.
“It’s always tricky on grass,” she added. “It’s up and down, and you have to focus on every ball. I was choosing my shots well and my serve was working – I played well.”
Krejcikova moves into her second final of the season, following her title run at WTA 1000 Dubai in February when she defeated World No 1 Iga Swiatek.
“Definitely feels great, I’m really happy with the way I played today,” Krejcikova said after her victory. “It’s always difficult to play on the grass because the game can change quickly, so I’m happy how I handled the match, and that I’m in the final.”
Ostapenko again needed to go the distance to secure her win for the 4th time this week, with her run to the final including a gruelling win over 7-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in the previous round.
The 2017 Roland Garros champion needed 2 hours and 7 minutes to come back from a set down against Potapova in their first meeting, and reach her first Hologic WTA Tour final of the season.
Ostapenko, the World No 17, and Potapova, ranked 21, had won all of their preceding matches this week in 3 sets, and Saturday’s semi-final continued that pattern, with the Latvian prevailing with 5 breaks of serve to Potapova’s 3.
“It was a really tough match, and it’s never easy to play great players like Anastasia,” Ostapenko said afterwards. “I was trying to play aggressive and to play my game. … I think it worked pretty well at the end, and the deciding moments, I felt like I played well.”
Ostapenko saved 3 set points at 5-4 in the first set, but Potapova took the opener 2 games later by converting her 6th set point with a forehand winner.
The 2nd-seed used her fierce forehand to build a 4-0 lead in the second, eventually levelling the match at a set apiece.
Earning a critical break at 3-3 in the third, Ostapenko struck 4 exceptional return winners to break serve and, at 5-4, a netted return by the Russian on the Latvian’s 1st match point sealed the win.
“It was a difficult match – I don’t know how I did it, every match has been tough,” Ostapenko said. “It’s never easy, and it’s important to win these kind of matches, when you’re not playing your best, and you just fight for every point.
“It’s great to play in a final before Wimbledon, and get some confidence,” she added.
In a match-up of former French Open champions, Ostapenko leads the head-to-head against Krejcikova 4-2, including winning their most recent encounter last month in the Italian Open 3rd-round, but they have never met on grass.
Krejcikova is looking for her 7th career WTA Tour singles title, while Ostapenko is seeking her 6th on Sunday.