MONTERREY, México - It was a dream semifinal match-up - two of the most popular players on the WTA, both former World No.1s, Saturday night and under the lights. And Ana Ivanovic came through.
The No.2-seeded Ivanovic beat No.3-seeded Caroline Wozniacki in two tight sets, 76(5) 64, rallying from 3-1 down to take the first set and almost losing control of the match in the second set, originally going up 4-0 before Wozniacki caught up to 4-all - but Ivanovic managed to close the match out.
"It was a great match tonight," Ivanovic said. "I played really well, especially in the beginning of the second set. We've had very close matches in the past, so it was really a treat to win tonight.
"Caroline was really striking the ball well."
Awaiting Ivanovic in the final is fellow Serb Jovana Jaksic. Jaksic had never made the quarterfinals of a WTA event before this week, and now she's through to the final after a grueling two-hour, 53-minute, 67(5) 64 64 win over the ageless Kimiko Date-Krumm earlier in the day. Date-Krumm was two games from winning in both the second and third sets, but Jaksic - and her 11 aces - came out on top.
"Kimiko is a great player and it was an amazing match," Jaksic said. "I gave my best and I really enjoyed it - I hope everyone enjoyed it because there were so many good points. I just tried to keep believing in myself and fight to the end. I really respect Kimiko. I was proud to be a part of that.
"And I'm super excited to be in the finals!"
There's a massive gap in experience between the two Serbs: Ivanovic is playing in her 18th WTA final, going 12-5 in her first 17; Jaksic only had one WTA-level match win to her name before this week.
And while they've never played each other, they know each other very, very well.
"Ana's one of my best friends, she's really like my big sister, and I will be so happy to face her tomorrow," Jaksic said about her countrywoman. "I was cheering for her in her semifinal tonight."
"Jovana is such a great girl and she has been on a great run - it's inspiring to see how motivated and excited she is," Ivanovic said. "I'm really happy for her and I know it will be fun for both of us."
Ivanovic was asked whether it's tougher to play against a friend. "I think it's always hard, but it's also important to go on court to enjoy yourself," she commented. "It's her first final, and for me playing someone from my own country is always exciting. I just hope it's a good match and people enjoy it."