QUÉBEC CITY, Canada - Lucie Hradecka and Kirsten Flipkens are two of the best players never to win a WTA title, but one of them will get that monkey off their back as they play each other in the final of the Bell Challenge.
Saturday was semifinals day and both of them won tight two-setters to make it to finals day - Flipkens was the first to advance, following up her upset over No.1 seed Dominika Cibulkova from earlier in the week with a 76(6) 76(3) upset over No.3 seed Mona Barthel. Things looked dodgy as Barthel fought off four match points down 5-2 in the second set and clawed back to force a tie-break, but Flipkens lifted her game one more time to cruise in that tie-break.
"I was 5-2 up and 0-40 on her serve, and it seemed like all of a sudden she was starting to hit two first serves - but it worked out for her," Flipkens said. "She started to serve amazing and was just going for it. I was fighting for every point in the end - we were both fighting really hard. It was a tough match today."
The 26-year-old Flipkens will now be playing her very first WTA final.
"It's been a hell of a week for me," Flipkens jubilated. "I can't believe I'm in the finals. I'm excited. I'm going to give 100% and we'll see what happens. This week is already perfect - I'm going to enjoy every moment of the final tomorrow.
"I made three semifinals before this and finally managed to get in a final!"
Flipkens actually had four semifinals before this - Forest Hills in 2004, 's-Hertogenbosch in 2010, Fès in 2011 and 's-Hertogenbosch again this year.
The No.8-seeded Hradecka followed Flipkens into the final later on in the day, firing 16 aces to beat French qualifier Kristina Mladenovic, 75 76(5).
While Flipkens overcame an 0-4 hump in WTA semifinals, Hradecka will have to overcome an 0-4 hump in WTA finals - she has been a runner-up in all four of her previous finals on the WTA, at Bad Gastein in 2008 (losing to Pauline Parmentier), Strasbourg and Istanbul in 2009 (losing to Aravane Rezai and Vera Dushevina) and Barcelona in 2011 (losing to Roberta Vinci).
"I was quite young in my first one in Bad Gastein, and I lost a close match, but I told myself not to worry, that I could win my second one," Hradecka said. "But then I lost that one and two more since, so I hope I can win one finally!"
"The last time I played her was last year at Indian Wells," Hradecka said. "I won, but it was a close match. But I think both of us are playing better right now so we'll probably change some things for tomorrow now. We'll see."