Just seven days after she claimed her first WTA doubles title in Auckland with Eugenie Bouchard, the 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin is through to her first WTA singles title match after a rock solid 6-2, 6-4 win over the 6th seed and 2016 champion Alize Cornet in an hour and 19 minutes.
Last year in Cincinnati, Cornet lost just four games against the youngster but she stood no chance today, scoring only one break and struggling to match the rival's performance in her games, dropping 44% of the points behind her initial shot and suffering four breaks from seven chances she offered to the youngster.
The French player hit two double faults in the third game to give her serve away, wasting a couple of break chances in game six before Sofia claimed another break in the following game after a well-constructed attack and a smash winner.
A fantastic running forehand winner delivered the opening set for the American in game eight, forcing her opponent to raise the level and begin the second set in a stronger fashion. Cornet opened up a 3-0 lead with a break of serve in game two before she lost the advantage after a great return game from Kenin at 1-3.
The younger player was on a roll now and she secured another break in game seven, firing a backhand cross court winner in the game that followed to open up a 5-3 gap. Serving for the win at 5-4, Sofia blasted a service winner to seal the deal and propel herself into the very first WTA final.
There, she will play against the 24-year-old Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova who took down Belinda Bencic 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 after two and a half hours of thrilling battle. Thus, Schmiedlova will compete in her fifth WTA final, winning the first title in three seasons last year in Bogota and chasing another one tomorrow thanks to a brilliant performance against Belinda in the decider.
It was a match full of ups and downs on both sides, with 23 break points up for grabs and 11 of those converted, staying neck and neck in the opening two sets before Anna Karolina shifted into a higher gear in the decider to secure the place in the final.
The first set lasted for an hour and they traded four breaks in five games starting from game six, with Schiemdlova leading 4-2 before Belinda turned the scoreboard around to open up a 5-4 advantage with a double break in games seven and nine.
Out of sudden, she got broken at love while serving for the set at 5-4 and Schmiedlova grabbed the breaker 7-2 to move a set away from the place in the final. Belinda started to play better in set number two, scoring two breaks to move 5-1 up before Anna Karolina bounced back to pull bot breaks back and serve at 4-5.
The Swiss stayed focused, delivering another break in game 10 to clinch the set and force a decider where she was the favorite now. Instead of that, it was Schmiedlova who saved the best for the last, dominating on serve in the third set and creating the crucial lead with breaks in games five and seven before making a hold at 15 at 5-2 to wrap up the triumph and stay on the title course. Semi-final results:
Sofia Kenin (USA) vs Alize Cornet (FRA) 6-2 6-4
Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK) vs Belinda Bencic (SUI) 7-6(2) 4-6 6-2