Barbora Krejcikova, the French Open champion, advanced to the final of the Livesport Prague Open where she will meet fellow Czech Tereza Martincova, the No 8 seed, on Sunday.
Krejcikova, seeded 2nd, easily overcame China’s Xinyu Wang, 6-1 6-2, in her semi-final on Saturday, while Martincova defeated 9th-seeded Greet Minnen of Belgium, 6-3 6-4, in the other to reach her maiden WTA final.
The Prague Open, therefore, will see a home player lift the title, with Krejcikova, who is using the hard-court tournament as a warm-up for the Tokyo Olympics, seeking her third WTA title in her 5th final after this year’s triumphs at Strasbourg and Roland Garros.
There are currently 9 Czechs in the WTA top 100, led by Karolína Plíšková at No 7, while Krejcikova rose to 13 following her French Open win, and her opponent in Sunday’s final, Martincova, is ranked 79.
Petra Kvitova, ranked 12, was the top seed in Prague but made an early exit from the tournament after a first-round loss to Slovakia’s Rebecca Sramkova on Monday.
Launched in 2010 as an ITF tournament with a $50,000 top prize, the Prague Open became a WTA 250 event in 2014.
Previously held on outdoor clay courts at TK Sparta Praha, this year’s Prague Open is being held on new concrete hard courts at the same location.
In the first semi-final, Martincova defeated Minnen in an hour and 37 minutes, and while she was broken three times in the match, she converted 5 of the 7 break points she held on the Belgian’s serve.
She finished the match with 67 points, which was more than Minnen’s 58.
The second semi-final between Wang and Krejcikova was even more straightforward, with the World No 17 needed just 69 minutes to dispatch the Chinese.
Krejcikova saved the lone break point she faced while converting 5 of the 9 break points she made and with 20 points separating them as the Czech won 61 points in all.
This is Krejcikova’s 4th final of the 2021 season, and she has won two, with her sole defeat coming at the Dubai Open where she lost to Garbiñe Muguruza.
It will be the 4th career meeting between Krejcikova and Martincova, who holds a slender 2-1 lead in their head-to-heads, although her higher-ranked compatriot won their last match at the 2020 Ostrava Open in straight sets.
Meanwhile, in the lone doubles semi-final played at the Prague Open on Saturday, the third-seeded Czech team of Marie Bouzkova & Lucie Hradecka defeated the 2nd seeds American Asia Muhammad & Storm Sanders from Australia, 6-3 6-4, in an hour and 16 minutes.
In the final, the Czechs will take on the top-seeded Slovakian-Serbian team of Viktoria Kuzmova & Nina Stojanovic.
Ladies Open Lausanne
In Switzerland at the Ladies Open Lausanne, Tamara Zidansek and Clara Burel will both bid for a maiden trophy on Sunday.
The Slovenian and Frenchwoman came through their semi-finals against Maryna Zanevska and Caroline Garcia respectively, on Saturday.
Zidansek held off a valiant effort from first-time semi-finalist Zanevska, 7-5 6-3, in an hour 35 minutes, while Burel came from a set and a break down and overcame injury to upset Garcia, the 5th seed, 5-7 6-2 6-2, in 2 hours 25 minutes.
In the first semi-final, Burel upset compatriot Garcia, the 5th seed, in 2 hours 25 minutes, the 20-year-old coming from a set down to oust the 76th ranked Frenchwoman, 5-7 6-2 6-2.
Burel had upset No 2 seed Fiona Ferro in straight sets, and backed that up with a gritty performance against Garcia, a former World No 4, and the current French No 6, now owns victories against 3 of her nation’s top 4 players this year, having also defeated Alizé Cornet in Lyon.
Garcia raced out of the blocks, showing off her shot-making skills as she leapt to a 3-0 lead, but found herself gradually reeled in.
Burel served for the opening set at 5-4, only to be denied by a flurry of sudden Garcia return winners, and she was broken 3 times as Garcia went up in the match.
Undeterred, Burel weathered the ebbs and flows of Garcia’s power game, raining her first serve percentage from 39% in the first set to 63% in the second and, from 0-2 down, converted her 6th break point in a marathon tussle to get a foothold in the set.
At 1-1 in the decider, Burel’s chances took a hit when she stumbled and fell to the ground in pain, requiring a medical timeout to tape up her ankle but, on resumption, it was the younger player whose focus was renewed.
Pounding the ball with aggressive intent on her forehand, Burel immediately captured the Garcia serve for 2-1 and from there Garcia fell apart somewhat, unable to keep the ball out of Burel’s strike zone and burying herself in 37 unforced errors and 7 double-faults.
In the second semi-final, Zidansek, the No 1 seed, got off to early leads in both sets, and though the battling Belgian pegged her back both times, she was able to summon her best tennis to prevent a full comeback.
At 4-4 in the first set, Zidansek saved 5 break points to swing the opening act in her favour, finding the lines with her forehand when it mattered, and delivering superb defence to draw Zanevska into going for high-risk shots.
The World No 193 consequently tallied 23 unforced errors to 12 winners, compared to Zidansek’s water-tight 14 unforced errors and 11 winners.
The Slovenian World No 50 is enjoying a career-best year, with her victory over Zanevska taking her season record to 25-13, including a breakthrough run to the Roland Garros semi-finals a month ago.
Lausanne is Zidansek’s 3rd career final and 2nd this season. On both previous occasions, in the finals of the 2019 Nuremberg Cup and 2020 Copa Colsanitas, Zidansek lost to Yulia Putintseva and Maria Camila Osorio Serrano respectively.
The Ladies Open Lausanne, however, is the first WTA final for Burel, a former junior World No1, while Sunday’s match will be the first career meeting between the two players, guaranteeing a new champion in the Swiss city.
Hungarian Grand Prix
In the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest on Saturday top seed Yulia Putintseva defeated home wild-card Dalma Galfi, 6-2 3-6 6-2, to reach her 2nd career WTA finals where meet first-time WTA singles finalist Anhelina Kalinina, who advanced after No 2 seed Danielle Collins retired from their match due to injury with the score standing at 7-6(5) 4-1 in the Ukrainian’s favour.
Putintseva of Kazakhstan needed nearly two-and-a-half hours to end the break-through run by former US Open junior champion Galfi, who, on home soil, earned the first 3 WTA main-draw victories of her career this week.
After splitting the first two sets, World No 42 Putintseva stormed ahead to 5-1 in the third despite having to take a medical time-out for her left leg and wrist at 3-0.
22-year-old Galfi, ranked World No 176, clawed one break back at love to keep the match alive for one more game, but Putintseva struck back immediately to close it out.
In her first WTA singles semi-final since her title run in Nurnberg over two years ago, Putintseva converted 6 of her 11 break points to clinch victory.
Putintseva, a 3-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, has now set up a chance to claim a companion for her 2019 Nurnberg singles champion trophy.
Kalinina reached her maiden WTA final after advancing past Collins from the United States, who played their semi-final with a heavily strapped right arm.
Currently at a career-high ranking of World No 95, the 24-year-old Ukrainian made her Top 100 debut this Monday after winning ITF Challenger titles in Montpellier and Contrexeville, France, within the last month.
She nearly let a massive first-set advantage slip away against the American after leading 5-1 and having a set point at 5-4, but Collins stormed all the way back from those deficits to queue up a decisive first-set tiebreak.
A second set point at 6-4 in the breaker was squandered by Kalinina with a double-fault but, on her 3rd chance at 6-5, the Ukrainian came out on top in a rally after a netted forehand miscue by Collins.
A drop-shot winner gave Kalinina a 3-1 lead in the second set, after which Collins received a medical time-out where her arm was treated after which the American contested just one more game before calling it quits.
Hungary ended up with a title this year, though, as home hope Fanny Stollar & Mihaela Buzarnescu from Romania won Saturday’s doubles final after defeating Spain’s Aliona Bolsova & Tamara Korpatsch of Germany, 6-4 6-4, in a battle between unseeded pairs.
The victors won nearly 65 percent of points returning second serves, which led to them converting 6 of the 8 break points they held during the affair.
It is the second WTA doubles title for Stollar, who also won her previous title in Budapest, alongside Georgina García Pérez in 2018, while it is also Buzarnescu’s second WTA doubles title, having triumphed at Strasbourg in 2018 with Raluca Olaru.