MONTERREY, Mexico -- No. 4 seed Timea Babos of Hungary moved into her second WTA singles final of the year, staging a remarkable comeback from a disastrous first set to outlast 7th-seeded American Sachia Vickery, 1-6, 6-2, 6-2, at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey on Saturday afternoon.
“I really started off slowly, and [Vickery] played great tennis so far all week," Babos told the media afterwards. "She’s in great form. Today, after the first set, I was really just telling myself to stay there, to fight for every point, and just wait for your opportunity. And I took it, the first opportunity I had, I took it. I’m just really happy with the way I fought and how I found the solution against her.”
Babos, the 2012 Abierto GNP Seguros champion, was the only one of the four semifinalists to have already won a singles title so far in 2018, having triumphed at the Taiwan Open in February. She now will seek her second title of the year after overcoming Vickery in one hour and 36 minutes.
Vickery was going for her second consecutive upset after dismantling No.2 seed Magdalena Rybarikova in the quarterfinals, but Babos was too strong as the match wore on, with 23 winners, including 5 aces. The American finished with 14 winners and 15 unforced errors.
In the championship match, Babos will take on No.1 seed Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, who survived a tough fightback from No.7 seed Ana Bogdan of Romania, 6-0, 7-5, in the second semifinal on Saturday afternoon.
“I love being here [in Monterrey], I got my first WTA title here, I have such a huge fanbase here, which is amazing," said Babos. "It’s incredible to hear my name all around the stadium. I’m really happy to be back and to play another final, and I can’t wait to step on court again.”
Vickery dominated the opening set, reeling off five straight games as the higher-seeded player capitulated in a storm of unforced errors (10 in the set overall). The hard-hitting Babos was struggling with her serve and her usually strong forehand continued to misfire, while the power game of Vickery was on song.
The American had a set point to complete a bagel opening frame, but Babos hit a forehand winner square on the baseline to erase that opportunity, and the Hungarian eventually held serve to get on the board. Babos then hit two service return winners to fend off two more set points in the following game, but Vickery converted her fourth chance to close out the set after a Babos return went into the net.
Babos turned the match around midway through the second set. The Hungarian saved a break point at 2-2 before holding with a few strong serves and a forehand winner on the decisive game point. Making it through that lengthy game spurred the Hungarian on, as she stayed steadfast and broke Vickery for the first time for 4-2, after the American led 40-0 in that game.
Babos had no problems running out the set from there, as the unforced errors from a frustrated Vickery mounted. A clutch of miscues by the American gave Babos another service break, which also closed out the set. Babos minimized her unforced errors in the second set, with only four, to seven winners. Vickery had a relatively clean set as well, but could never reach break point.
Both players came out swinging in the decider, with neither competitor facing a break point in the first four games, although Babos was holding with relative ease, while Vickery had to pull though two protracted service games.
At 2-2, Babos came through a tough game of her own, relying on her big serve to hold for 3-2. It was then Vickery’s turn to deal with a tough service game, and the American reached game point from double break point down, saving the second with a forehand winner down the line. But a forehand winner by Babos led her to a third break point, which she converted, punctuating it with a scream of glee.
Babos quickly held at love for 5-2 with a backhand winner, and then reached triple match point on Vickery’s serve in the next game after forcing an error with a crosscourt forehand. A long forehand by the American on the first match point gave Babos the comeback victory, winning the final ten points of the match in the process.