ACAPULCO, México - Sara Errani and Carla Suárez Navarro cruised past their semifinal opponents and into the final of the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL on Friday, setting up a tantalizing match-up between two of the craftiest players on the WTA - and one of the tightest rivalries so far this year, as well.
The No.2-seeded Suárez Navarro was the first to move through, needing just 68 minutes to beat fellow Spaniard Sílvia Soler-Espinosa, 62 61. Suárez Navarro reeled off the last 13 points of the match.
Suárez Navarro is now through to her fourth WTA final, but she is still looking for her first WTA title - she has lost grueling three-setters in her first three tries, at Marbella in 2009 (losing to Jelena Jankovic, 63 36 63), Marbella again in 2010 (losing to Flavia Pennetta, 62 46 63), and Estoril in 2012 (losing to Kaia Kanepi, 36 76(6) 64, having missed out on two match points in the second set breaker).
Errani, the No.1 seed and defending champion in Acapulco, followed Suárez Navarro into the final with an identical 62 61 win over No.3 seed Alizé Cornet. Cornet may have been somewhat drained - she won an absolute nail-biter in the quarterfinals the night before, rallying from a 63 30 deficit, saving nine match points and battling for more than three and a half hours to survive Lourdes Domínguez Lino.
"I was still very tired from yesterday and just couldn't find the energy to bother Sara," Cornet said. "She was playing well - she's one of the best players on clay and everybody knows it. You really need to be at your best to beat Sara. But I had a great week - I'm really happy with my result in Acapulco."
"The score looked easy, but it was a very tough, long match," Errani said. "We had a lot of long points and a lot of the games were close. The conditions were heavy today but I played a good match."
Errani has a much better record than Suárez Navarro in WTA finals - she is an even 6-6 in them.
The actual match-up couldn't be closer, however. Errani and Suárez Navarro have played seven times before and Errani barely leads the head-to-head, 4-3, but perhaps more importantly they are 1-1 this year - and the Italian had to save match point to get her win on the board, at Paris [Indoors].
"We've already played two times this year and they were both very tough matches," Errani commented. "She beat me in Australia and I won in Paris in a very tough match. I'll have to be ready tomorrow."