Eugenie Bouchard reached the final of the Abierto Zapopan in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Friday with a 6-2 7-6(2) win over Elisabetta Cocciaretto and will face 4th-seeded Sara Sorribes Tormo for the title, who upset Marie Bouzkova, the No 2 seed, 6-3 7-6(3).
I’m proud of myself for regrouping there at the end, and still committing to playing my game, no matter if she was playing well. It was just important to keep doing what I do. Eugenie Bouchard
It is Bouchard’s 8th career WTA singles final and the Canadian is attempting to lift her first tour singles title since 2014 at the WTA 250-level event.
The former World No 5, who was a Wimbledon finalist that same year, is currently ranked 144 in the world and needed an hour and 44 minutes to topple her 134th-ranked opponent from Italy.
This is Bouchard’s 2nd WTA singles final in the past 52 weeks, having also reached the trophy match in Istanbul last year, where she fell to Patricia Maria Tig.
“[Cocciaretto is] a very tough player,” Bouchard said. “She plays aggressively and takes it early, so she’s always coming at you. I had to be ready for that and stay with her, and then whenever I had a chance, go for it.”
Bouchard swiftly took the first set behind 2 breaks of service, but in a closely contested second, the Italian qualifier exhibited the grit that pulled her to her first-ever WTA semi-final this week, which included a win over top seed Nadia Podoroska from the Argentine.
Deep returns helped Bouchard gain the crucial break lead at 3-2 but, when serving for the match at 5-4, the Canadian faltered for the first time on her delivery.
On her 5th break point of the match, Cocciaretto finally converted a chance with a beautiful backhand winner down the line to level the set at 5-5 and stay in the contest.
Bouchard used all of her experience to dominate the 2nd-set tiebreak, where she reeled off an array of fantastic forehands to take the final 5 points and claim her spot in Saturday’s final.
“I’m proud of myself for regrouping there at the end, and still committing to playing my game, no matter if she was playing well,” Bouchard said. “It was just important to keep doing what I do.”
Bouchard is seeking her 2nd career WTA singles title after a spotty 1-6 career record, with her sole WTA singles title coming on the clay of Nurnberg 7 years ago.
In the late semi-final, Sorribes Tormo needed just over 2 hours to claim her straight sets win over her friend and occasional doubles partner Bouzkova from the Czech Republic, with gruelling rallies frequently being the order of the night.
At the end of last month, Bouzkova finished runner-up to Daria Kasatkina at Melbourne’s Phillip Island Trophy, and the protracted nature of many of the points and games in Friday’s encounter made for compulsive viewing.
“I think it was a tough match for both,” said Sorribes Tormo, after the match. “We know each other very well, and it was an emotional match for me and for her.
“I’m happy with the way I managed the emotions and all the moments in the match.”
Sorribes Tormo took an early critical break for 2-0, which took 10 minutes before the Spaniard claimed it on her 5th break point, and that proved to be the only break of the set.
In the second, Bouzkova found a forehand winner to break for a 4-2 lead, and the Czech extended her advantage to 5-2 before Sorribes Tormo charged back.
The Spaniard broke to love to get back on track at 5-4, then withstood 3 set points on her own serve at 5-6 to eke her way into a tiebreak.
Once into the breaker, Sorribes Tormo dominated, drawing miscues from Bouzkova to earn 6 straight match points at 6-0.
The Czech fended off the first 3 match points, but on the 4th, Sorribes Tormo knocked off a forehand winner to surge into her first WTA singles final.
“[Bouchard is] playing really good, she has really good timing with the ball,” said Sorribes Tormo, looking forward to the final. “We’ll see what will happen, but I’m happy being in the final and I will enjoy it tomorrow, for sure.”