Qualifier Elena Gabriela Ruse from Romania is aiming for her second WTA title in two weeks when she faces American top seed Danielle Collins in the final of the 32nd Palermo Ladies Open on Sunday.
Collins reached her first career final by accounting for 4th-seeded Zhang Shuai, 6-4 6-3, in their semi-finals, breaking the Chinese veteran’s serve 3 times.
The World No 44 lost a 3-set quarter-final to Ruse two weeks ago in Hamburg, where the Romanian went on to win the tournament, also as a qualifier.
The 137th-ranked Ruse is attempting a repeat after reaching the Palmero final from qualifying and battling past 6th-seeded Oceane Dodin of France, 6-7(7) 7-6(0) 6-1.
Dodin saved 18 of the 26 break points she faced before finally succumbing in a match in which she committed 22 double-faults.
Collins has yet to drop a set in Palermo, overcoming Aussie Astra Sharma, the 7th seed in the quarter-finals, 6-1 6-4, and before defeating Zhang in the semis.
Ruse’s passage has been more rugged, coming through 2 qualifying matches before taking out local favourite wild-card Lucia Bronzetti in her quarter-final, 6-4 7-5, and taking 3 hours to get past Dodin.
Meanwhile, at the BNP Paribas Poland Open, Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska and Kristina Kucova from Slovakia will vie for a maiden WTA trophy in the final in Gdynia.
The Belgian defeated Kateryna Kozlova from Ukraine, while Kucova ousted Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch in their respective semi-finals.
Zanevska had a relatively easy passage to the semis, defeating Nuria Parrizas Diaz from Spain, 6-3 6-2, in an hour 17 minutes, before taking 2 hours to get past Kozlova, 6-2 4-6 6-3.
The Belgian won around 73% points off both her first and second serves, while the Spaniard won 59% points off her first serves and just 27% of her second-serve points.
Zanevska saved both break points she faced while breaking Parrizas Diaz’s serve 3 times, winning 63 points to Parrizas Diaz’s 40 for the match.
With Parrizas Diaz’s exit, no seeds remained in the draw in Gdynia.
Against Kozlova, Zanevska won 64% of her first-serve points to the Ukrainian’s 52%, while both won around 46% of their second-serve points.
In the first set, Zanevska lost serve once but broke Kozlova 3 times but the Ukrainian was the better player in the second in which she faced no break points and needed just one break to level the match at a set apiece.
After exchanging two breaks of serve each in the third, Zanevska secured a 3rd break to make it to the final, have won 91 points while Kozlova finished with 76.
Earlier in the day, Kozlova had completed her quarter-final over Poland’s Katarzyna Kawa after it was suspended on Friday evening, coming from a set down to oust the Pole, 5-7 7-5 6-1, in 2 hours 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, in her semi-final, Kucova wrapped up a quicker 6-0 6-3 win over the German in just an hour and 13 minutes.
The Slovakian won 87% of her first-serve points to Korpatsch’s 45%, and also fared marginally better in terms of winning points off her second serves, with 37% to the latter’s 25%.
Kucova’s near-impenetrability on her serve was also seen in the number of break points, she faced, just one, which she was unable to save, but she went on break her opponent’s serve 6 times in the match and ended the match with 50 points to Korpatsch’s 37.
The Poland Open final is the first time both Zanevska and Kucova have reached a WTA final and the winner will be the 13th first-time title holder on the tour in the 2021 season.