Top seed Caroline Garcia swept past Elise Mertens into the Abierto GNP Seguros final in Monterrey, Mexico, on Saturday, where she will meet Donna Vekic, who saw off Zhu Lin in the semi-finals at the WTA 250 event.
Donna [Vekic] is having an amazing beginning of the year, and a strong end of the year last year also. She proved, already in the past, that she’s a good player, and today she had a solid semi-final. It’s a big match for me to play and I’m very excited! Caroline Garcia
Garcia eased her way through with a 6-3 6-4 win over Mertens, the No 4 seed from Belgium, while Vekic, the 3rd seed from Croatia, ousted China’s 5th-seeded Zhu, 7-5 6-2.
The 5th-ranked Garcia was 2 of 12 on break chances, but never dropped her serve, losing just 8 points on it in the second set, and the Frenchwoman won the final 3 games of the contest to reach her 16th career final.
“It was very intense,” Garcia said after reaching her second final of the season. “Every point as super important since the very first game of the match.
“We had a lot of break points to save, both of us, and they were saved with a lot of winners.”
Garcia has enjoyed a flawless march towards her second Monterrey final, coming 8 years after she made her first.
The Frenchwoman has not lost a set all week, notching up wins over Kara Juvan, Nuria Parrizas Dias, Mayar Sherif, and Mertens, facing just 6 break points across her 4 wins through which she has been broken only once.
Garcia came into the match with a 4-2 lead in the head-to-head over Mertens, with her last win coming last summer en route to the Cincinnati title.
On Saturday, she played her attacking game with confidence to keep the Belgian at bay, firing 33 winners to just 14 unforced errors in the match, while Mertens countered with 17 winners to 15 miscues, but struggled to withstand Garcia’s relentless pressure.
Although she broke only once in each set, Garcia generated 12 break point opportunities on the Mertens serve, while Mertens earned 4 break chances but could not convert.
On Sunday, Garcia will look to level her head-to-head record against Vekic, after the 29-year-old Croatian ousted the 5th-seeded Zhu in two sets earlier in the day.
“It was not an easy match, it was really solid,” said Vekic. “I was just waiting for my opportunity to come and I was lucky that I was patient enough and I used the first opportunity I had to break her.
“I think I changed the rhythm really well, which didn’t suit her at all. When I had an easier ball I was aggressive and finished well at the net.”
In their first meeting since 2015, Vekic and Zhu battled through a tight first set that saw each earn just a single break point apiece.
Vekic wiped out Zhu’s only chance in her opening service game before coming through on her only break chance in the penultimate game to earn a 6-5 lead and, behind 17 winners to Zhu’s 9, the No 3 seed pocketed the first set after 56 minutes.
In a match decided by a handful of points, it was Zhu who let her level dip, momentarily enough to give Vekic an insurmountable lead in the second set.
Serving at 2-1 down, Zhu misfired on an overhead and 2 forehands to give Vekic break points, and then double-faulted to hand over the game.
The Croatian did not relinquish her lead from there, adding a second break with fantastic defending to forge ahead 5-2, and closed out her 13th win of the season after an hour and 31 minutes.
Behind her power baseline game and clutch play on the biggest points of the match against Zhu, Vekic is into the final having dropped just one set this week in Monterrey.
Having never progressed past the 2nd-round in her previous 3 appearances here, the Croatian is breaking new ground for herself, and with 11-5 in semi-final matches on the Hologic WTA Tour to her credit, Sunday’s final will be her first since finishing as runner-up in San Diego last autumn.
In her 11th career final, Vekic is looking for her 4th career title, and, head-to-head, she has the better of Garcia 4-2 in their tour-level meetings, but they have not met since the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
“Donna is having an amazing beginning of the year, and a strong end of the year last year also,” Garcia said about the coming final. “She proved, already in the past, that she’s a good player, and today she had a solid semi-final.
“It’s a big match for me to play and I’m very excited!”
Garcia is bidding to capture her 12th Hologic WTA Tour title.