PARIS, France - It may not have been the way she wanted to do it, but World No.7 Sara Errani moved past an injured Kiki Bertens in the semifinals of the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris on Saturday, reaching the second-biggest final of her career right where she reached her biggest - well, sort of.
Errani, the No.1 seed at a Premier-level tournament for the first time, was leading Bertens 5-0 in the first set after just 24 minutes when the Dutch lucky loser had to retire due to a left pelvis injury.
"It has been a strange week for me," said Errani, who has advanced by retirement twice out of three matches this week. "I knew Kiki was a bit hurt, so I told myself to try to have a good start and just stay focused - at least now I will have a bit more time to feel better after my quarterfinal match."
Errani needed over three hours and had to save match point to win that quarterfinal match Friday.
This will be Errani's first Premier-level final and second-biggest overall final of her career - the biggest was the French Open final a year ago, which was in Paris as well, of course, though at a different venue and on a much different surface. The Italian has a 6-4 overall record in WTA finals.
The other semifinal featured two players who had taken out the No.2 and No.3 seeds in the quarters - Barthel, who had beaten No.3 seed Marion Bartoli, and Kristina Mladenovic, who had beaten No.2 seed Petra Kvitova. Barthel won the last 13 points on her serve to beat the French wildcard, 61 64.
"I expected a really tough match today - she beat so many great players this week and was playing great tennis, so I knew I had to serve well and play my best," Barthel said. "I wasn't focusing on winning, I was just focusing on my strokes and going for my shots and it went well for me today."
The only time Barthel faced any break points in the match came at 2-3 in the second set, when she found herself down 0-40 on her serve - but that's when the 13-point winning streak came out.
"Of course these tough moments are the most important moments of the match," Barthel added. "I knew if I served three good serves at that moment it would really help me - I was just focusing on doing that, winning each point and going step by step. That was a very important game to win the set."
Barthel will be playing the biggest final of her career. She has reached two WTA finals before, both at the International event in Hobart, winning the title last year and finishing runner-up this year.