BARCELONA, Spain - Dominika Cibulkova and Sara Errani were at their rock solid best on Saturday afternoon, cruising into the final of the Barcelona Ladies Open with comfortable straight set wins over unseeded opponents.
The No.7-seeded Errani was the first to advance, losing serve three times but breaking Carla Suárez Navarro in all eight of her service games and eventually rolling past the talented Spanish player in just 69 minutes, 61 62.
"I don't think it was a good day for Carla," Errani said. "It was very windy and wasn't easy to play today, but I was concentrating hard and just trying to play my game, and not trying to focus too much on her game. Things went well."
Errani has now won nine straight matches on clay, having gone 5-0 to win her last clay court event in Acapulco and 4-0 this week. "It has been the best year of my career," declared the Italian, who also reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open. "I hope everything will keep going well."
The No.3-seeded Cibulkova had a similar result in the second semi, dropping serve twice but breaking Romania's Sorana Cirstea in all seven of her service games - including once at love, and twice at 15 - for a 58-minute, 61 61 win.
"The wind didn't help me today - it was changing a lot. But there was no choice but to handle it and I think I played well," Cibulkova said. "I'm very happy. It has been a good week for me and for the start of my clay court season."
Cibulkova will be going for her second WTA title, and first on clay (her other title came on indoor hardcourts in Moscow last October); Errani will chase her fourth WTA title, and third on clay (she has clay court titles at Palermo in 2008 and Acapulco this year, as well as on hardcourts in Portoroz in 2008).
Cibulkova leads Errani in their head-to-head series, 4-2. Errani does have some success against Top 20 players though - she has six career wins over players in that ranking class, including one earlier this week (she upset World No.16 Julia Goerges in the quarterfinals - the German was the No.2 seed).
"Errani moves very well on clay and is very fast, but if I keep my level of play up I have my chances," Cibulkova said. "I will give the best of myself tomorrow."
"Cibulkova hits the ball very hard - I have to be quick and change the pace," Errani said. "I have a lot of confidence coming into the final and since today's match was so short, I'm feeling fresh. It won't be easy, because she's a great player, but this seems like a good tournament for Italians in the past!"
The Barcelona Ladies Open began in 2007, and after an American and a Russian won the first two titles, Italians have taken the last three - Roberta Vinci in 2009, Francesca Schiavone in 2010 and Vinci again in 2011.