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Putintseva to meet Van Uytvanck in Astana Open final

The top two seeds, Yulia Putintseva and Alison Van Uytvanck, will meet in the final of the Astana Open at Nur-Sultan in Kazakstan on Saturday after both posted straight wins in their semi-finals.

I don't know how but I won this game... I had one lucky shot that helped me get another match point. It's cool, it's very special [to be in a final at home] - I'm really looking forward to it. Yulia Putinseva

Top seed and home hope Putintseva defeated Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson, 6-2 6-4, while Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck saw off Jaqueline Cristian from Romania, 6-3 6-3.

Home interest therefore is guaranteed into the final weekend as Putintseva seeks to win the inaugural WTA 250 tournament in her own land.

It was a superb one-hour, 43-minute semi-final in which the score belied the quality showcased by both players, as well as how tightly the match was contested.

The No 1 seed, who is ranked 47 in the world, dominated the first set-and-a-half with a dazzling array of perfectly-executed tactics.

Her defensive skills and refusal to give Peterson the same ball twice made Putintseva nearly impossible to hit through, while her ability to hammer down-the-line winners from defensive positions and end points quickly with exquisitely disguised drop-shots enabled her to take charge of the rallies when she needed to.

She built a 5-1 second-set lead, but the one-sided scoreboard did not quite do Peterson justice as the Swede came out on the wrong end of several multi-deuce tussles that could so easily have gone the other way, and she showed real grit by so nearly pulling off a remarkable comeback.

Peterson’s heavy topspin forehand has been a potent weapon all week, and it fizzed with intent as she broke Putintseva when the Kazakh served for the match at 5-2.

Forehand winners also saved 2 match points on the Swede’s own own serve in the next game, when the World No 86 held 2 break points to level at 5-5.

Under pressure, Putintseva came up with the goods with her own forehand, striking a pass and a down-the-line winners off that wing to snuff out the danger.

A huge slice of luck then went her way at deuce, when a dead net-cord brought up a 3rd match point for Putintseva, who duly converted after Peterson netted a backhand.

“The second set was tight since the beginning,” Putintseva said. “It was a few close games which turned my way.

“I knew the 4-1 game was very, very important. I knew that if I could lead 5-1, at least if I didn’t serve it out the first time, next time I will have new balls.

“I don’t know how but I won this game… I had one lucky shot that helped me get another match point. It’s cool, it’s very special [to be in a final at home] – I’m really looking forward to it.”

Alison Van Uytvanck got past Jaqueline Cristian to reach her 4th career WTA final

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Earlier in the day, Van Uytvanck, the No 2 seed, had advanced with a 6-3 6-3 win over Cristian in a nervy affair that lasted an hour 16 minutes.

“I didn’t feel super comfortable in the beginning, and I was pretty nervous,” she admitted afterwards.

The pair racked up 75 unforced errors between them, 43 from Cristian and 32 from Van Uytvanck, but the Belgian benefited from superior serving and more positive starts to each set, capturing the Romanian’s serve early both times.

The World No 126 battled hard to retrieve each break, but Van Uytvanck never trailed in either set, while Cristian was undone by 6 double faults, including one in each of her second-set service games.

Like Putintseva, Van Uytvanck was unable to close out her 5-1 second-set lead at the first time of asking, with Cristian unleashing a forehand return to save a match point en route to breaking back, but the insurance double-break proved crucial, and an excellent forehand pass sealed the deal on the Belgian’s 3rd match point two games later.

Both Putintseva and Van Uytvanck are contesting their 5th career final and the pair have met 4 times at pro level, with the Kazakh winning every encounter, although Saturday’s clash will be their first indoors.



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