Strasbourg | WTA 250 Internationaux de Strasbourg – Elina Svitolina reached her first final since returning to the WTA Hologic Tour after becoming a mother at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Friday, where the Ukrainian will face Russian Anna Blinkova on Saturday.
I was just trying to fight in the second. It was not easy, Clara played a good match. In the end, the fighting sprit and playing aggressive really helped me win that set. In the third, I felt much better on the court. I was serving very good, returning well as well, so it was a solid third set for me and I'm happy with the win. Elina Svitolina
In just her 7th tournament at any level since her return from maternity leave, Svitolina came from a set down in her semi-final to defeat France’s Clara Burel, 4-6 7-5 6-3.
Svitolina, a champion in Strasbourg 3 years ago, rallied from 1-4 down in the second set to advance after a 2 hours 20 minute tussle.
“I was just trying to fight in the second,” Svitolina said afterwards. “It was not easy, Clara played a good match.
“In the end, the fighting sprit and playing aggressive really helped me win that set.
“In the third, I felt much better on the court. I was serving very good, returning well as well, so it was a solid third set for me and I’m happy with the win.”
Svitolina denied Burel 3 chances for a 5-2 lead before breaking in the 7th game, and also held from 0-40 down to level at 4-4, winning 4 games on the trot before serving for the set at 5-4.
The Ukrainian former World No 3, who saved 10 of 16 break points, is looking to become the 5th wild-card in the tournament’s history to win the title, hoping to join Angelique Kerber (2022), Samantha Stosur (2017 and 2015), Maria Sharapova (2010) and Stefanie Graf (1997).
Her opponent in the final is Blinkova, who upset American 7th seed Lauren Davis, 6-2 6-2, in the other semi-final to reach her first career WTA clay-court final after 73 minutes of play.
“I’m really happy to win this match,” Blinkova said. “I think I did a good job and I was really focused, point-by-point.
“I tried to be as aggressive as I can, I tried to make her move and come to the net to finish the points as much as I could.
“It was difficult to stay calm, as I had all the thoughts about the final and winning, but I was happy to overcome all of these thoughts.”
Blinkova, who converted 5 of 6 break points to dispatch Davis, is seeking her second career title, having won her first indoors on hard courts in Cluj-Napoca last autumn.
Rabat | WTA 250 Grand Prix Son Altesse Royale La Princesse Lalla Meryem – Italy’s Lucia Bronzetti committed just 8 unforced errors while rolling to a 6-1 6-1 upset of 2nd-seeded Sloane Stephens in the semi-finals in Morocco in just 61 minutes.
Bronzetti did not face a single break point and took advantage of 22 unforced errors by the American to advance to the trophy match against Austria’s Julia Grabher, who outlasted Argentina’s Julia Riera, 6-1 3-6 7-6(6) in her semi-final match.
The Italian reached the Rabat semi-finals last year, but now she is one round further thanks to her swift win over 2017 US Open champion.
Grabher had to go down to the wire before reaching her first career WTA singles final in a clash that lasted 2 hours and 19 minutes.
The World No 74 becomes the first Austrian to reach a WTA singles final since Yvonne Meusburger won the title at Bad Gastein in 2013.
Grabher dominated with her heavy forehand to take the first set, where she hit 9 winners to none from Riera, and was two points away from a 4-1 lead in the second set as well, but, from that 6-1, 3-1 deficit, Riera, ranked 195, rallied her way back into contention.
The Argentine, playing in the first WTA main draw of her career this week, reeled off 5 games in a row to collect the second set.
Riera grabbed an early break for 2-1 in the third, but Grabher broke to love for 4-4 en route to a decisive tiebreak in which a deft lob winner allowed the Argentine to save a match point at 6-5, but the Austrian used more powerful forehands to clinch the next 2 points and seal the win..
First-time WTA finalist Grabher saved 6 of 10 break points to advance.
Bronzetti and Grabher, both unseeded at the WTA 250 clay-court event, will face each other for the first time at tour-level on Saturday, as they both seek their first WTA singles title, having split their two previous meetings at ITF Challenger events.