TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - Irina-Camelia Begu moved within touching distance of her first WTA title on Friday with a straight set win over No.2 seed Urszula Radwanska in the semifinals of the Tashkent Open.
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Twenty-four hours after snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against Galina Voskoboeva, Begu enjoyed a more straightforward outing against Radwanska, breaking early on in both sets en route to a 63 63 win.
Like Begu, Radwanska was pushed hard in her quarterfinal - taking three sets and over three hours to see off Alexandra Panova - and seemed to struggle physically in the longer baseline exchanges. The Romanian, on the other hand, was scurrying from side to side, drawing the errors from Radwanska and wrapped up the match after just one hour and 18 minutes on court.
Begu now advances to her third career final, and first for more than a year, where she will face teenage qualifier Donna Vekic.
"I was really tired from yesterday's match and it's hard to recover on hardcourts," Begu said. "But today I ran for every ball and put it back forcing Urszula to commit mistakes. I'm happy to make it to my first final in Tashkent, but for now I'm not thinking about the final and just want to enjoy this moment and try and recover."
The other semifinal was more of a seesaw affair, as Vekic continued her fairytale run by overcoming last year's runner-up, Eva Birnerova.
Despite making her WTA main draw debut this week, 16-year-old Vekic has looked anything but overawed, and showed further maturity against Birnerova, shaking off a mid-match wobble to win, 61 36 61.
The Croatian is now just one win away from becoming the youngest WTA tournament winner since Tamira Paszek took home the Portoroz title back in 2006, and was understandably delighted. "It's quite hard to believe," she said. "It feels like a dream but it's reality and I am so happy to make the first final of a WTA event.
"She was a difficult player and did not give me any rhythm, which made me lose my focus a bit in the second set. I didn't play my best tennis today, but it is important to win on days like these. I've played a lot of matches and the physios here have helped me to keep fit and I feel I have energy going into the final."