DUBAI, UAE - Agnieszka Radwanska and Julia Goerges beat former World No.1s in the semifinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Friday and aren't just on the verge of winning the prestigious Premier-level title now, they're on the verge of some very impressive ranking breakthroughs.
Radwanska, the No.5 seed this week, was the first to win, losing her way somewhat in the second set but finding her range again in the third set for a 62 26 60 win over No.8 seed Jelena Jankovic. Radwanska was broken three times in the second set but when she got that under control she rolled - she held her last four service games at love, three in the 28-minute third set.
"She started to play much better in the second set. I was really in a lot of trouble," Radwanska said. "In the third set I was just focused on my game and fought until the end. And the second game of the third set was the key in this match - I got more confident after that and I think she got a bit angry.
"Jelena plays great tennis here every year and has had great results at this tournament. So I knew I had to play much better than the other days."
Radwanska is now through to her 10th WTA final, going 7-2 in her first nine. She will be looking for her fourth Premier-level title, winning Eastbourne in 2008 and Carlsbad, Tokyo [Pan Pacific] and Beijing in her career-best 2011 season.
"Last year I was somehow playing good tennis from the summer on," the 22-year-old Polish No.1 said. "I was feeling really confident on the court and playing a lot of good matches against top players. And for the first time I finished No.8. I was working hard in the off-season but pretty much doing everyting the same. It has been great to continue playing great tennis this year."
Goerges, unseeded this week, followed Radwanska into the final with a tough 76(3) 75 win over No.3 seed Caroline Wozniacki, a match highlighted by contrasting styles and a series of ups and downs for both players - Goerges actually led 5-3 with set point in the first set but eventually closed it out in a tie-break, then rallied from 4-2 down for the second set. It was her third straight win over Wozniacki, having beaten the Dane at Stuttgart and Madrid last year.
"It's never easy playing Caroline. She gets a lot of balls back and it's a lot of rallies. We played over two hours for two sets," Goerges said after the match. "It's nice to be in the final and to beat these kinds of players. I don't know how it would have gone in the third but I'm pretty happy I made it in two sets.
"Some players you can see if they really like your game or they don't. On her I can see she doesn't really like my game. That's pretty important for me to see."
"I didn't play my best game today. I made way too many unforced errors, and Julia took advantage of it," said Wozniacki, who was the defending champion in Dubai. "She didn't really allow me to get a rhythm. Every time I felt I was back in the game playing well, I made some unforced errors at very important times, which of course is a bit disappointing, but can't do anything about it now."
Goerges has reached the final in her first time playing in Dubai. She is in her fourth WTA final, going 2-1 in her first three - she has one Premier-level title to her name, at Stuttgart last year (beating Wozniacki in the final).
Both Radwanska and Goerges could set new career-highs with a title here. Radwanska would move from No.6 to No.5, her Top 5 debut; Goerges would go from No.19 to No.15, her Top 15 debut (her career-high is No.16).
Radwanska defeated Goerges comprehensively in their only previous meeting, just last month in the fourth round of the Australian Open (Goerges led Radwanska in winners, 11-10, but had nine times as many unforced errors, 27-3, en route to a 54-minute, 61 61 loss in her first Grand Slam fourth round).
"She killed me in Australia. I wasn't even ready for that match. I didn't really play the shots and was just missing everything," Goerges said. "Tomorrow is a new day, a new match and starts from zero again. It's going to be a challenge. When you're in a final you want to go out there and leave everything on the court.
"That's what I'm going to do tomorrow."