Marina Erakovic held off a late surge from Christina McHale to return to the Bell Challenge final. She is now in her fourth WTA final - what links all of them together? Read on to find out.
WTA Staff

QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - Marina Erakovic returned to the Bell Challenge final on Saturday afternoon, outhitting Christina McHale in the first semifinal match of the International-level tournament.

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After falling behind by a break three times in the first set, the No.6-seeded Erakovic found her zone, reeling off eight games in a row to build a 64 50 lead, even holding two match points in that game. McHale had pulled off comeback wins in her last two matches - 26 76(7) 63 in the second round and 16 76(4) 63 in the quarterfinals - and she began creeping back this time as well, closing in to 64 53.

But Erakovic opened the next game with a big ace and ended up shutting the door on McHale, 64 63.

"It was very see-saw in the first set," Erakovic said. "I managed to keep clawing back, though, and as I was getting more and more comfortable on the court, I felt like I really needed to just keep lifting my game. I managed to take that first set and from there I did really well - I was hitting some really big forehands and moving better and better. I was feeling really good in that stretch of the match.

"She started to play better at the end and made life more difficult, but I'm happy how I finished."

Erakovic knew she would have to keep the pressure on against McHale - she had lost the pair's only previous meeting. "Christina's really tough to play," Erakovic said. "She hustles and fights for every ball. You know when you go out there you'll have to keep pushing and stay at a very high level."

Erakovic is now through to her fourth WTA final, having gone 1-2 in her first three - she was a runner-up here in 2011 (to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova), a runner-up at Memphis in 2012 (to Sofia Arvidsson) and then won Memphis this year (beating Sabine Lisicki in the final). There's something that links all of her four WTA finals together - all four of those WTA finals have come at indoor tournaments.

"I really enjoy this tournament," Erakovic said. "The city is beautiful, and everyone is really nice here too - it's really first class. And I would really like to get my name on that poster up there, as well.

"But if it doesn't happen I'll just keep going. I'm sure I'll get lots of opportunities."

Next up for Erakovic is the No.3 seed, Lucie Safarova, who won her semifinal match later in the day. The two have played once before, with Safarova beating Erakovic in a thriller Down Under in 2009.

"I've played Lucie once or twice - I know we played once at the Australian Open," Erakovic said. "She hits really big. She's a very good competitor with a very good serve. It'll be tough. I just have to keep doing what I've been doing so far this week, and at the end of the day that's all I can really do."

Erakovic's immediate plans after her press conference were set in stone though - it was time to support her country's team at the America's Cup, an annual yacht race that has been going since 1851.

"My physio is part of the team - he's a very good friend of mine - and my whole family's there too," Erakovic said. "I've met all the guys and I'm very keen that they're doing well. They're a very good team. And at the moment they've only lost one race, so it's great - I'm really excited about it!"