Defending champion Kristina Mladenovic fought hard to defeat Russia’s Daria Kasatkina and set up a title clash with Petra Kvitova at the St Petersburg Ladies’ Trophy on Saturday.
Mladenovic, who won 3-6 6-3 6-2, fired four aces and 35 winners but also made 51 unforced errors in a match that lasted two hours and 17 minutes. She will play in her first WTA final since the Madrid Open in May.
Double Wimbledon champion Kvitova produced a gritty performance to oust fifth-seeded German Julia Goerges 7-5 4-6 6-2 at the Sibur Arena.
Mladenovic did not enjoy the best of starts, committing 25 unforced errors in the first set to allow 20-year-old Kasatkina to take the early advantage.
However, world number 10 Mladenovic composed herself and switched gears in the second set to draw level. She sealed three breaks to take control in the decider before clinching the contest on her fourth match point.
“What a match. I want to give credit to Daria, she played amazing, physically especially,” Mladenovic said.
“There were lots of rallies, very long points and lots of variation. It was a mental battle out there for both of us… It’s a very big reward for me, for the work I put in. I just feel at home here,” she added.
Kvitova overcame a mid-match blip but sealed the victory in a little over two hours on the back of 30 winners and 11 aces. Kvitova last played in a final in June when she won the title in Birmingham.
“It feels great. I never thought I’d be in the final coming into this tournament… maybe I’m on a good way,” Kvitova said.