At the Jasmin Open Monastir in Tunisia, 3rd-seeded Alizé Cornet from France advanced to her first final of the year with a 6-4 6-3 upset win over Veronika Kudermetova, the Russian No 2 seed, where she will face Belgian Elise Mertens, who stormed past American Claire Liu, 6-4 6-0, in the semi-finals on Saturday.
A late wild-card entry into the tournament, Cornet is into her first final since 2021 Chicago without losing a set, beating Brazilian Laura Pigossi, British No 2 Harriet Dart, Tamara Zidansek from Slovenia, and now Kudermetova on her way to the Last 2.
She took advantage of 50 unforced errors by Kudermetova, while making just 24 of her own.
“It was a bit windy,” Cornet said. “I think I handled the conditions a bit better.
“She was maybe rushing a little bit into her shots sometimes. She had so many break points and, I think, I was mentally really solid. I served well each time, just really solid.”
After falling behind a quick 2-0 in the first set, Cornet reeled in Kudermetova with her physical work behind the baseline.
Ranked No 12 and in the hunt for a qualifying position at the WTA Finals in Fort Worth, Kudermetova was bidding to advance to her 4th final of the season, but she could not overcome her own frailties, particularly on the forehand side against the 37th-ranked Frenchwoman, and could only muster 20 winners in the two-set match.
In the face of the Russian’s erratic play, Cornet stayed focused and played solidly to keep the pressure on, and although Kudermetova generated 11 break points, she could only convert twice.
Cornet was far more poised, breaking on 4 of her 9 break points, and she finished the match with 8 winners to 24 unforced errors.
The 32-year-old Frenchwoman is bidding to win her first title since 2018 Gstaad, and her first on a hard court since 2016 Hobart.
Cornet’s opponent on Sunday is the 5th seed, Mertens, who also reached her first final of the season by cruising to a straight sets win against Liu, converting all 5 of her break points in the 72-minute encounter.
Mertens, like Cornet, has enjoyed a resurgent week in Tunisia, while Liu’s run to the semi-finals included stunning top seed and home favourite Ons Jabeur on Thursday, the 22-year old notching up her first Top 10 win against a player who is ranked No 2 in the world.
Now ranked No 42, Mertens is into her first final since 2021 Istanbul, and is bidding to win her first title since the 2021 Gippsland Trophy.
On Sunday, Cornet and Mertens will face each other for the 5th time in their careers, with the head-to-head locked at 2-2, the Belgian having won their last meeting earlier this year in St Petersburg, edging the Frenchwoman, 3-6 6-2 6-4.
With her run to the semi-finals this week, Kudermetova will rise to No 9 on the Race to the WTA Finals leaderboard on Monday, and she will now head to America for the San Diego Open, where she faces Sloane Stephens in the 1st-round.