And Now .... The Main Event
After a week of high drama and upsets, champion Yanina Wickmayer showed – again – that she’ll be very difficult to unseat, rallying from a set down to graft a 3-6 7-6 (3) 7-5 semifinal win over Chinese Shuai Peng.
On the other side of the net stands Hungarian bolter Greta Arn, who set the tournament on its head two days ago by showing top seed Maria Sharapova the door.
She confirmed her giant-killing abilities by dropping fourth-seeded German Julia Goerges in straight sets, 7-6 (3) 6-3.
“I know a little bit about her,” said Wickmayer, who won their only previous meeting last year at Cincinatti. “Anyone that reaches a final has played well and had a good week ... the fact she beat Marian Sharapova means she is a dangerous opponent.”
Wickmayer was the first to confirm her place in the title match and needed every bit of her determination to recover from a seemingly impossible situation against Peng, who was living up to her nickname of “The Great Wall of China”.
Peng raced through the first set and served for the match at 5-4 in the second. But the titleholder dug deep, achieved the necessary break and then produced six straight points to swing the tiebreak her way.
“I just thought maybe this is my last game ... I should give it everything I had,” reflected Wickmayer. “I went for every shot and tried to be very aggressive to put pressure on her.”
The rivals continued their slugfest into the third set, breaking and re-breaking each other several times. Wickmayer served for the match at 5-3, but dropped service, then rebroke.
As she tried to seal victory again, the second seed boiled over when a marginal line call went against her, but steadied and eventually closed the deal in 2h 52m – the longest match of the tournament.
Arn’s no-nonsense approach simply ground down Goerges, who had been the most impressive performer through opening rounds, but struggled somewhat with flu in recent days.
“But I think I was just more mature than her and that was the difference,” said the 31-year-old veteran. “I know which shot to play when and that takes time ... she has to learn that.
“I lost to Yanina last year and she is tough. She is moving well, and has great strokes, great serves and a great attitude on the court ... she is fighting to the last point.
“But I am a different player now.”
Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium)
Career High 12 (April 2010)
WTA Titles/Finals 3/5
Career Earnings US$1,490,794
Greta Arn (Hungary)
Career High 81 (July 2010)
WTA Titles/Finals 1/1
Career Earnings US$587,555