Top seed Sofia Kenin battled 3 tiebreak sets to survive against Alison Van Uytvanck and reach the final of the Open 6 ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon on Saturday, where she will meet the unseeded German, Anna-Lena Friedsam.
I've had tough matches to get to time final. The deeper I get into the tournament, the harder it's going to get. I'm just ready to fight. I've had 3 sets these past 3 days, and long hours of tennis... I'm just going to have to figure out a plan, but the first plan is to play my game, no matter who I'm playing. Sofia Kenin
“This is a good turnaround for me,” a relieved Kenin said after coming through against the tenacious Belgian, 7-6(5) 6-7(2) 7-6(2), in 2 hours and 28 minutes.
The American has had a rough couple of weeks, but her game is finally coming together in Lyon as she reached her 6th WTA Tour final.
Having made first-round exits in Dubai and Doha, the Australian Open champion has found her rhythm again under difficult circumstances.
The topsy-turvy encounter saw each player break twice in the 1st set before Kenin edged ahead via the tiebreak, while after a break apiece in the second, it was Van Uytvanck who took the breaker.
There were no breaks of serve in the decider, but this time the American dominated the tiebreak.
“I’m happy to be in the finals. I wasn’t 100 percent in the last two weeks in Dubai and Doha, but I played some tough players,” Kenin said.
“I’ve had a few matches, and even though it’s not the best tennis, I would say, but in each match win, I’m playing better and better.”
She held her nerve across the, firing 29 winners and weathering the Belgian’s 22 aces to triumph.
“It was a really tough match. She played tremendously. Every point was a battle. Just a few points, a few shots went my way,” Kenin said after the match.
“I know her game pretty well, so I knew what I needed to do. She’s improved a lot, and I’ve improved. I expected her to come out and play some big tennis and serve big.”
Into her second final of the year, Kenin will take on the unseeded Anna-Lena Friedsam in the final after the German upset 7th seed Daria Kasatkina, 6-3 3-6 6-2.
The rising German, who is ranked 136 in the world, battled through a tough semi-final of her own earlier in the day, taking down the No 7 seeded Russian after 2 hours and 5 minutes.
“It feels great. It makes me feel that all the hard work has paid off. I’m super proud,” said Friedsam. “She’s a great player and very solid. She doesn’t make any bad decisions.
“I tried to play to my strengths. I tried to use my power, push her out of court and get to the net. I think it worked today, but it was a hard fight and a hard battle.”
A single break of serve was sufficient for the 26-year-old to secure the opening set, and although she lost a hard-fought 2nd, she never trailed in the 3rd, winning a decider for the second day in succession having overcome No 8 seed Viktoria Kuzmova in a thriller 24 hours earlier.
Clear favourite for the title, Kenin said: “I’ve had tough matches to get to time final. The deeper I get into the tournament, the harder it’s going to get.
“Everyone’s fighting and it’s not going to be easy. I’m just ready to fight. I’ve had 3 sets these past 3 days, and long hours of tennis.
“I’m happy with it. I like playing… so it’s a good boost to my confidence after Melbourne, for sure.
“I know [Friedsam], but I’ve never practiced, played against her or watched her play.
“It’s a little different playing someone who you don’t know, rather than coming out and playing someone who you know what she’s doing.
“I’m just going to have to figure out a plan, but the first plan is to play my game, no matter who I’m playing. During the match, I’ll adjust if I need to.”