PRAGUE, Czech Republic - The home crowd at the J&T Banka Prague Open will see at least one Czech in the final for the third straight year, as Kristyna Pliskova defeated Jelena Ostapenko, 6-4, 6-2. to close out Friday's semifinals.
Pliskova will contest her second career WTA final against qualifier Mona Barthel, who upset No.3 seed Barbora Strycova, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the day's first semifinal.
Pliskova set the all-unseeded affair in Saturday's championship with the one-hour, eight minute victory over Ostapenko, who had to finish off a quarterfinal against Ana Konjuh earlier in the day.
The Czech struck 29 winners - including 17 aces - to just 10 unforced errors in a match in which she never trailed, as she broke the teenager's serve four times in the match.
World No.82 Barthel, who saved three match points in the second round of qualifying, won her seventh straight match in the Czech capital and her second against a seed in the main draw after defeating No.6 seed Zhang Shuai in the first round.
"It was such a tough match, I cannot really believe I made it," Barthel said on court after the match. "I had such a bad start and she was playing so well. She had all the people cheering for her, but I just tried to stay in the moment and tried believe in me -- and I think that was the key in the end.
A three-time WTA singles champion, Barthel peaked at a career-high ranking of World No.23 in March of 2013, but saw her ranking dip all the way down to No.183 to begin this year after an illness-plagued season in 2016.
The German has cut her ranking by over 100 spots to begin 2017, and was contesting her first semifinal since the 2015 Luxembourg Open - a tournament where she finished runner-up.
However, it was Strycova who started the brighter of the two, as the No.3 seed broke serve twice in the first three games and hardly looked back en route to pocketind the 40-minute opening set, 6-3.
"In the beginning, I was just trying to go for my shots but I wasn't moving well, I wasn't ready," Barthel added. "[Then] I was just trying to get more balls in, and I got into the the rhythm, then I was directing the points."
A break in the first game of the second set saw the German take her first lead of the match, and an insurance break in the seventh game saw her coast to tying things up.
The German dropped just six points behind her serve in the middle set, and took advantage of a dip in the Strycova delivery; the Czech landed 76 percent of her first serves in the opener, but that fell to just 44 percent in the second set.
The qualifier again broke serve, on her third opportunity, to begin the decider and added an insurance break in the fifth game en route to building a 5-2 lead. Though she surrendered her serve for the first time since the opener as she served for the match, she proved up to the task in the final game and earned her sixth break of serve to wrap up the match in two hours, seven minutes.
Barthel and Pliskova have played twice previously with a head-to-head of 1-1, including earlier this year at the Qatar Total Open in Doha, where the Czech rallied for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.